The Leading Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in Brazil, 2000-2020

Degli Esposti M, Coll CVN, Murray J, Carter PM, Goldstick JE. The Leading Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in Brazil, 2000-2020 [published online ahead of print, 2023 Mar 23]. Am J Prev Med. 2023;S0749-3797(23)00154-X. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2023.03.015.


Introduction: Despite promising reductions in mortality from infectious diseases, premature death is a still major public health problem in Brazil. However, little is known about which diseases and injury mechanisms are the main causes of premature death. This paper aimed to detail the trends in leading causes of death among children and adolescents in Brazil.

Methods: Data were extracted from medical death certificates from the Brazilian Mortality Information System for children and adolescents aged 1-19 years for 2000-2020. The 10 leading causes of death for children and adolescents were defined using primary cause of death codes, grouped by death for diseases and mechanism for injury, according to the ICD-10. All analyses were completed in 2022.

Results: From 2000 through 2020, there was a total of 772,729 child and adolescent deaths in Brazil. Despite an overall 34% reduction in child and adolescent mortality from 2000 to 2020, improvements were less pronounced for injury-related deaths than for communicable diseases. Therefore, by 2020, over half of deaths were from injury-related causes. Firearm-related injury was by far the leading cause, accounting for 21% of all deaths. There was a 38% reduction in firearm deaths in the last 4 years against a previously increasing trend, and homicide accounted for over 90% of all firearm deaths because suicide by firearm was rare.

Conclusions: Injury-related deaths among children and adolescents are a growing concern in Brazil, and firearms are the current leading cause of child and adolescent death.