The Biggest Threats by Age Group

Jun 13, 2018 |

 

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Content warning: This content includes information about difficult experiences that could be upsetting for some readers.

The odds of dying from a shark attack are 11.5 million to one—and sadly, there are much more threatening causes of mortality than those that Hollywood fetishizes. For example, people between the ages of 55 and 64 have a higher chance of dying from cancer (284 deaths per 1,000 people). So in lieu of asking Google or a Magic 8-Ball about our fate, analysts at SafeWise reviewed the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s data regarding fatal and non-fatal threats from ages 0 months to 65 and older. From there, we determined which threats are most likely to result in death and injuries across specific age groups. Some overall trends are as follows:

  • From ages 1 to 44, the leading cause of death is injury. But the main cause of injury-related deaths varies between age groups. To best represent the data, we analyzed chief causes of injury-related deaths specific to age groups.
  • Between ages 5 and 24, the leading cause of death is car crashes. The main reason behind motor vehicle deaths is improper seat belt use. Because of the duration of this trend, we addressed additional threats specific to those age groups. According to the most recent data available from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), there are 16.8% more people involved in fatal crashes between Memorial Day and Labor day, compared to an average month.
  • For ages 25 to 44, the leading cause of death is unintentional poisoning.

Our Findings

For every age group, we calculated the percentage of total deaths that were due to the leading cause of death.

Leading Cause of Death

Leading Cause of Death Percentage of Deaths by Age Group* Percentage of Deaths across All Ages
Infants (0–12 months) Birth Defects 21% of infant deaths <1% of all deaths
Toddlers (1–4 years) Drowning 31% of toddler deaths <1% of all deaths
Children (5–9 years) Car Crashes 31% of child deaths 1.3% of all deaths
Preteens (10–14 years) Car Crashes 25% of preteen deaths 1.3% of all deaths
Teens (15–19 years) Car Crashes 39% of teen deaths 1.3% of all deaths
Early Twenties (20–24 years) Car Crashes 42% of early twenties deaths 1.3% of all deaths
Young Adults (25–34 years) Drug Poisoning

 

21% of young adults’ deaths 1.7% of all deaths
Adults (35–44 years) Drug Poisoning 14% of adult deaths 1.7% of all deaths
Middle Age Adults (45–54 years) Cancer 25% of middle age adult deaths 21.9% of all deaths
Older Adults (55–64 years) Cancer 33% of older adult deaths 21.9% of all deaths
Advanced Age Adults (65+ years) Heart Disease 33% of advanced age adults 23.3% of all deaths

*Sources for these statistics can be found throughout the following article.

Additional Threats

Additional Threat Impact by Age Group* Impact across Age Groups
Infants (0–12 months) Child Abuse 2% of infants 4.5% of minors (under age 18)
Toddlers (1–4 years) Fall Injuries 5% of toddlers 1.2% of all deaths
Children (5–9 years) Fall Injuries 3% of children 1.2% of all deaths
Preteens (10–14 years) Suicide 14% of preteen deaths 1.6% of all deaths
Teens (15–19 years) Suicide 20% of teen deaths 1.3% of all deaths
Homicide 15% of teen deaths .6% of all deaths
Early Twenties (20–24 years) Sexual Violence 25% of women
7% of men
17.6% of all women
3% of all men
Young Adults (25–34 years) Gun Violence 14% of young adult deaths 1.3% of all deaths
Adults (35–44 years) Car Crashes 6% of adult deaths 1.3% of all deaths
Middle Aged Adults (45–54 years) Heart Disease 20% of middle aged adult deaths 23.3% of all deaths
Older Adults (55–64 years) Heart Disease 22% of older adult deaths 23.3% of all deaths
Advanced Age Adults (65+ years) Fall Injuries 6% of advanced age adults 1.2% of all deaths

*Sources for these statistics can be found throughout the following article.

Safety Tips

  1.  Drive safely. 
    • Always buckle up. Use the appropriate car seat or booster seat for your child’s age, height, and weight.
    • Obey the speed limit.
    • Drive sober.
    • Drive alert (never distracted or drowsy)
  2. Add these emergency contacts to your phone:
    • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
    • RAINN: 1-800-656-4673
    • Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222
    • SAMHSA Substance Abuse Helpline: 1-800-662-4357
    • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
    • The Trevor Project (for LGBTQ Youth): 1-866-488-7386
  3. First aid training can save lives—get your CPR and first aid certification.  To find out how to get certified, visit the Red Cross.
  4. Familiarize yourself with Bystander Advocacy to help prevent potentially dangerous situations.
  5. Keep firearms safely stored in a gun safe. Store ammunition in a separate location.
  6. Store prescription medication out of sight. Safely dispose of expired or left over prescription drugs by mixing them with coffee grounds or kitty litter before throwing them away.
  7. Make sure children wear safety gear and use proper equipment when playing sports to prevent injuries from falls. Supervise young children to help prevent falls.
  8. Install guard rails, non-slip rugs, stair gates, and other household equipment to help prevent falls.

Stats, Facts, and Prevention

image of infant with threat statistics

Infants (0 to 12 months old)

Leading Cause of Death: Birth Defects
21% of deaths

Additional Threat: Child Abuse
2% of infants

Statistics and Facts

Every year, birth defects impact one in 33 children born. According to the CDC, it is the primary fatal threat that infants encounter. Birth defect occurrence varies—organizations like the CDC are working towards more accurate tracking to better understand trends and prevent birth defects.

There are ways you can help safeguard your child while in utero. The CDC recommends taking folic acid supplements early on during pregnancy, which has been proven to protect against instances of spina bifida and other nervous system birth defects.

 

image of toddler with threat statistics

Toddlers (1 to 4 years old)

Leading Cause of Death: Drowning
31% of deaths

Additional Threat: Falls
5% of toddlers

Statistics and Facts

The most common place where drowning occurs is at in-home pools. Before you and your child go for a swim, the CDC has a few recommendations to help you two stay safe.

To start, you’ll want to make sure your little one has proper swimming skills and well-fitting flotation devices that are suitable for their age. A caretaker should be on hand to supervise at all times. If you’ll be visiting a home or facility with a pool, find out if there’s a fence around the perimeter to keep small children from accessing the pool without supervision.

 

image of childrent with threat statistics

Children (5 to 9 years old)

Leading Cause of Death: Car Crashes
31% of deaths

Additional Threat: Falls
3% of children

Statistics and Facts

No matter what age, it’s crucial that everyone use a seatbelt and proper seating arrangements (like a booster or child seat) when in a vehicle. A lack of proper seat belt use is to blame for most motor vehicle related deaths—35% of all deaths of children 12 and under are caused by not being properly buckled up during a car crash.

To best protect your child, the CDC recommends that you know the car and booster seat age guidelines, properly install the seats in age-specific safe areas of the car, and that you always wear a seat belt yourself. We also encourage every driver to practice defensive driving techniques.

 

image of preteen with threat statistics

Preteens (10 to 14 years old)

Leading Cause of Death: Car Crashes
25% of deaths

Additional Threat: Suicide
14% of deaths

Statistics and Facts

From 10 to 14 years of age, a preteen goes through and experiences a lot, which can impact their decision-making skills, mental health, and so on. Again, the leading cause of death for this age group is car crashes with the main reason being improper seat belt use.

As for the leading threat, mental health disorders and suicide by suffocation are the most notable for this age group. Factors that are out of a child’s control, such as financial insecurity, homelessness, bullying, or abuse can contribute to mental health disorders and impact their ability to process trauma. Suicide impacts the entire US and is the 10th leading cause of death for all age groups.

 

image of teen with threat statistics

Teens (15 to 19 years old)

Leading Cause of Death: Car Crashes
39% of deaths

Additional Threats:
Suicide: 20% of deaths
Homicide: 16% of deaths

Statistics and Facts

Teenagers are, by far, the most vulnerable age group when it comes to threats. Every risk or threat, like motor vehicle crashes, mental health issues, youth violence, and social pressure is amplified for this age group. And to top it all off, studies show that teenagers have a higher risk-taking threshold that’s only exacerbated come summer time.

Today’s teens are exposed to a new set of threats, such as social media pressures, prescription drugs, and vaping. And according to new research, suicide attempts or ideation among older adolescents has risen in recent years. To help combat this, supportive programs like NAMI and Go Ask Alice serve as resources to help teens navigate these challenges.

 

image of young adult with threat statistics

Early Twenties (20 to 24 years old)

Leading Cause of Death: Car Crashes
42% of deaths

Additional Threat: Sexual Violence
25% of women
7% of men

Statistics and Facts

Like children, preteens, and teenagers, people in their early twenties are also at risk of dying in a car crash. The odds of drinking-related vehicle deaths are increased, and threats like sexual violence rise monumentally as well. Sexual violence is a pervasive problem—as many as one in

The ripple effect of sexual assault can drastically alter a person’s life, with repercussions such as PTSD, depression, self-harm, and suicide. Ultimately, sexual assault can happen to anyone—not just those in their early twenties. Programs and institutions like RAINN are devoted to education, prevention, and support surrounding sexual violence.

 

image of young adult with threat statistics

Young Adults (25 to 34 years old)

Leading Cause of Death: Drug Poisoning
21% of deaths

Additional Threat: Gun Violence
14% of deaths

Statistics and Facts

The CDC qualifies death by poisoning as “the unintentional consumption of a substance that causes irreparable harm or death.” Drug or medication overdoses, carbon monoxide poisoning, fatal allergic reactions, and alcohol poisoning all fall into this category.

There is often a correlation between the misuse of alcohol and unintentional poisoning. Alcohol misuse can be caused by a variety of factors such as social conditions, addiction, or genetic predispositions, but ultimately, alcohol doesn’t discriminate.

 

image of adult with threat statistics

Adults (35 to 44 years old)

Leading Cause of Death: Drug Poisoning
14% of deaths

Additional Threat: Car Crashes

Statistics and Facts

Similar to young adults, the leading cause of death is drug poisoning. The opioid epidemic is ravaging America and can be linked to the surge in poisoning-related deaths.

Opioids come in three main forms: prescription drugs, heroin, and fentanyl. All three can be highly addictive and are extremely lethal when taken in excess. And according to the CDC, every 18 of 100 people in the US have used opioids or misused illicit drugs, with 66% of all overdoses involving opioids.

When it comes to prevention, the CDC is working towards educating the public about the dangers of opioids and how easily people can become addicted. Efforts are being made on a federal level to better support statewide initiatives to prevent addiction and overdoses.

 

image of middle aged adult with threat statistics

Middle Aged (45 to 54 years old)

Leading Cause of Death: Cancer
25% of deaths

Additional Threat: Heart Disease
20% of deaths

Statistics and Facts

According to the National Cancer Institute, there are over 100 different types of cancer—lung, prostate, and breast cancer are the three most fatal. There are ways you can prevent cancer, specifically through proactive measures like screening tests, vaccines, and deliberate lifestyle choices.

Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol can impact the odds of getting cancer, but genetics, environmental exposures, radiation, and obesity can also play a part.

Again, there can be a correlation between this age group’s leading cause of death and leading threat. The CDC’s suggestions for obesity prevention are similar to cancer prevention—starting with lifestyle changes, healthy eating, and consistent physical activity.

 

image of older adult with threat statistics

Older Adults (55 to 64 years old)

Leading Cause of Death: Cancer
33% of deaths

Additional Threat: Heart Disease
22% of deaths

Statistics and Facts

Americans are living longer than they ever have before—but with longer life comes a new series of potential ailments and chronic diseases that can impact quality of life. At least 80% of adults have a chronic disease, meaning the condition cannot be resolved with medication and typically won’t be absolved entirely.

These chronic diseases can impact a person’s well-being, sense of safety, quality of life, and mental health. Overall, the CDC is reporting lower numbers of cancer-related diagnoses, but the number of deaths is still going up because of the population growth.

 

image of advanced aged adult with threat statistics

Advanced Age (65+ years old)

Leading Cause of Death: Heart Disease
33% of deaths

Additional Threat: Falls
6% of advanced age adults

Statistics and Facts

Heart disease can be the result of genetics or compounding lifestyle choices. The most common example of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which can cause a stroke, a heart attack, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

To prevent heart disease, the CDC recommends maintaining healthy eating and exercising. People should familiarize themselves with first aid protocol for heart attack signs and symptoms. Knowing the first signs of a heart attack or stroke can help save a life.

Methodology

Our evaluation of the biggest threats by age was a two-fold process. We started by researching the most common threats from data provided by the CDC and other reputable sources. Then we analyzed that data and examined trends for each age group.


Sources

  1. National Vital Statistics Reports, “Deaths: Final Data for 2015
  2.  National Vital Statistics Reports, “Deaths: Final Data for 2015,” pp. 6, 46–48
  3.  National Vital Statistics Reports, “Deaths: Final Data for 2015,” pp. 6, 48, unless otherwise indicated
  4.  Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Child Maltreatment: 2015
  5.  RAINN, “Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics
  6.  National Vital Statistics Reports, “Deaths: Final Data for 2015
  7.  National Children’s Alliance, “National Statistics on Child Abuse
  8.  CDC, “Birth Defects—Data & Statistics
  9.  National Vital Statistics Reports, “Deaths: Final Data for 2015
  10.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Overall Fall Nonfatal Injuries and Rates per 100,000, 2015, United States, All Races, Both Sexes, Ages 1 to 4
  11.  CDC, “Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts
  12.  National Vital Statistics Reports, “Deaths: Final Data for 2015
  13.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Overall Fall Nonfatal Injuries and Rates per 100,000, 2015, United States, All Races, Both Sexes, Ages 5 to 9
  14.  CDC, “Child Passenger Safety: Get the Facts
  15.  National Vital Statistics Reports, “Deaths: Final Data for 2015
  16.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “10 Leading Causes of Deaths, United States, 2015, All Races, Both Sexes, Ages: 10–14
  17.  National Vital Statistics Reports, “Deaths: Final Data for 2015
  18.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “10 Leading Causes of Deaths, United States, 2015, All Races, Both Sexes, Ages: 15–19
  19.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “10 Leading Causes of Deaths, United States, 2015, All Races, Both Sexes, Ages: 15–19
  20.  National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “Monthly Variation in Substance Abuse Initiation among Adolescents
  21.  AAP News and Journals Gateway, “Hospitalization for Suicide Ideation or Attempt: 2008–2015
  22.  National Vital Statistics Reports, “Deaths: Final Data for 2015
  23.  The Washington Post, “College Sexual Assault: 1 in 5 College Women Say They Were Violated
  24.  The Washington Post, “College Sexual Assault: 1 in 5 College Women Say They Were Violated
  25.  National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “Sexual Assault in the United States
  26.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “2015, United States, Unintentional Injuries – Poisoning, Ages 25–34, All Races, Both Sexes: Accidental poisoning by and exposure to antiepileptic, sedative-hypnotic, antiparkinsonism & psychotropic drugs, NEC; narcotics and psychodysleptics [hallucinogens], not elsewhere classified; other and unspecified drugs, medicaments, and biological substances; alcohol,” see also Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “NCHS Data on Drug-poisoning Deaths
  27.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “2015, United States, Homicide, Ages 25–34, All Races, Both Sexes: Firearm” and “2015, United States, Suicide, Ages 25–34, All Races, Both Sexes: Firearm
  28.  CDC, “Poisoning
  29.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “2015, United States, Unintentional Injuries – Poisoning, Ages 35–44, All Races, Both Sexes: Accidental poisoning by and exposure to antiepileptic, sedative-hypnotic, antiparkinsonism & psychotropic drugs, NEC; narcotics and psychodysleptics [hallucinogens], not elsewhere classified; other and unspecified drugs, medicaments, and biological substances; alcohol
  30.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “2015, United States, Unintentional Injuries – Poisoning, Ages 35–44, All Races, Both Sexes: MV Traffic
  31.  CDC, “Opioid Basics
  32.  National Vital Statistics Reports, “Deaths: Final Data for 2015
  33.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,“10 Leading Causes of Death, United States, 2015 All Races, Both Sexes, Ages 45 to 54
  34.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,“10 Leading Causes of Death, United States, 2015 All Races, Both Sexes, Ages 55 to 64  
  35.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,“10 Leading Causes of Death, United States, 2015 All Races, Both Sexes, Ages 55 to 64  
  36.  CDC, “Healthy Aging
  37.  National Vital Statistics Reports, “Deaths: Final Data for 2015
  38.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Overall Fall Nonfatal Injuries and Rates per 100,000,  2015, United States, All Races, Both Sexes, Ages 65 to 85+
  39.  CDC, “Heart Disease  

Written by SafeWise Team

The SafeWise Team is here to help you keep your home and family safe. Whether you’re looking to pick a security system or identify and remove common risks in your home, we’re here to help you find the best products and well-researched answers. At SafeWise we combine our years of experience in home safety and security with user reviews and feedback to help take the guesswork out of living safe. Learn more

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