Study author Dr. Veronica F. Sullins and colleagues reviewed the records of all pediatric patients involved in bicycle-related accidents from the Los Angeles County database from 2006-11.
The information included helmet use, age, gender, insurance status and race/ethnicity. Further analysis sought to determine whether helmet use was associated with the need for emergency surgery, morbidity, mortality and length of hospital stay.
The study found 1,248 children were involved in bicycle-related accidents in Los Angeles County -- median age 13; 64 percent male -- and overall 11.3 percent of patients wore helmets.
There were some ethnic-based differences -- 35.2 percent of white children wore helmets, compared to 7 percent of Asian children, 6 percent of black children and 4 percent of Hispanic children.
Researchers observed differences based on insurance coverage -- 15.2 percent of children with private insurance coverage and 7.6 percent of children with public insurance wore helmets at the time of injury.
Children age 12 and older were less likely to wear a helmet, the study said.
Overall, 5.9 percent of the injured children required emergency surgery, and 34 percent of those children returned to their pre-injury capacity. Of the nine patients who died, eight did not wear a helmet, Sullins said.
The findings were presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Fla.