Accidents are now killing fewer kids than in the past says a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

Death rates due to unintentional injuries of children fell by nearly 30% in U.S from 2000 to 2009. During this period the death rates of children in car crashes dropped by nearly 41%.

“The rate is among the worst of all high-income countries,” said Dr. Illeana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC in a news conference.

The same period (2000-2009) saw a 91% increase in poisoning deaths among teenagers and a 54% increase in deaths due to suffocation in infants.

Deaths due to poisoning were largely due to prescription overdose. These drugs whether stolen from parents’ cabinets or purchased on street, appear to be increasingly replacing marijuana as a ‘gateway drug’ that leads to the abuse of harder drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, said Dr. Julie Gilchrist, a medical epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention.

“The picture with teens is not that different from what’s happening with prescription drugs for the entire population. Even with older Americans and that is, that painkiller is essentially the driver that prescription drug overdose problem as well. Specifically, things such as Vicodin, Percocet, Demerol etc.,” said Dr. Illeana Arias to WebMed.

In 2009, nearly 9,000 infants, children and teenagers died of accidental injuries. That amounts to almost 1 death every hour, said the report. For every accidental death, there were about 25 hospitalizations and 925 visits to the emergency room. Every four seconds a child is treated for an injury in an emergency department.

Death rates among children varied across the country. The national average was about 11 deaths per 100,000 children. Massachusetts and New Jersey recorded 5 deaths whereas South Dakota and Mississippi recorded 23 deaths per 100,000 in the same year (2009). Dr. Julie Gilchrist said that low rates in Massachusetts were due to a ‘widespread recognition of the problem’ and to the availability of programs to combat the injuries.

Dr. Gilchrist advised parents to put babies’ on their backs, remove loose beddings material to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexpected, sudden death of a child under age one in which an autopsy does not show an explainable cause of death. Because no cause is found for the infants’ death, many parents suffer from guilty feelings.