Inflatable Bouncer Injuries Are A Growing Epidemic In The US
November 26, 2012

Inflatable Bouncer Injuries Are A Growing Epidemic In The US

[WATCH VIDEO: New Study Shows Increase In Inflatable-Related Injuries]

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

Inflatable bouncers, as fun as they can be, are proving to be a real danger for small children. Bounce houses, sliders, and moonwalks are popular attractions at birthday parties, carnivals, and fun parks, but new research published in Monday´s online issue of Pediatrics shows that rate of injuries to children using these bouncers have increased fifteen-fold from 1995 to 2010.

According to researchers, led by Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, there are about five bounce house-related injuries per 100,000 children every year in the US. While this is far less than the estimated 31 per 100,000 trampoline-related injuries reported in 2009, the new findings on bounce houses show an alarming “epidemic” is occurring and people should take notice.

The study found that in 2010 alone, more than 30 children per day were treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained while using inflatable bouncers. The study further found that 28 percent of injuries were from fractures, 27 percent from strains or sprains, 19 percent were head and neck injuries. They found the most common injuries came from falls (43 percent), but others occurred due to stunts or collisions between children. Forty-four percent of injuries occurred in a recreational setting and 38 percent during home usage.

“The findings from this study show that there has been an alarming increase in the number of injuries from inflatable bouncers,” said Smith. “It is time for us to take action to prevent these injuries. Ensuring that parents are aware of the potential risks, improving surveillance of the injuries, developing national safety guidelines and improving bouncer design are the first steps.”

Smith and colleagues note that the injuries seen in bounce houses are similar to those seen in trampolines. Although there are national safety guidelines for trampoline use, no such guidelines exist for inflatable bouncers.

“The medical and public health community has yet to provide recommendations on the safe use of inflatable bouncers,” said Dr. Smith, also a professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “The growing epidemic of inflatable bouncer injuries make[s] it clear that it is time to do so.”

Until national safety guidelines are in place, the authors said parents should consider the risks before allowing their kids to play on inflatable bouncers. If they do allow their kids to use these bouncers, they should consider limiting use to children 6 and older, require supervision by a parent or guardian and only allow one child at a time on the attraction. If more than one child will be on the bouncer at the same time, they should be of about the same size and age, the researchers warn.

Data for Smith´s study were obtained from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), operated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. This was the first study to use a nationally representative sample to examine injuries associated with inflatable bouncer-related injuries that were treated in US hospitals.

Smith said it was difficult to get the facts and figures for bouncer-related injuries. “We generally got the feedback that the usage was going up but we couldn't get any firm numbers.”

Dr. Trigran Avoian, author of a previous study on bouncer-related broken bones, said better reporting by hospitals could make it easier to glean the facts on bouncer-related injuries.

However, Avoian, a doctor at Los Angeles Orthopedic Hospital, said he doesn´t believe the inflatable bouncer injuries are an “epidemic.”

John Carr, of the American Inflatable Alliance, told Reuters Health in an email that the new study does not say how many children who use inflatable bouncers got injured. According to his calculations, children may be using bouncers as many as 643 million times per year.

“When utilization is factored in, injury rates are actually quite small,” he wrote.