High Chair Injuries On The Rise In The US
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Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
The number of young children suffering high chair-related injuries is on the rise, according to a new study appearing on Monday in the online edition of the journal Clinical Pediatrics.
Study researchers focused on closed head injuries (CHI) – concussions and internal head injuries – as these were the most common type of injury associated with high chairs at 37 percent. They also found that the number of CHIs increased by nearly 90 percent during the study period, from almost 2,600 in 2003 to almost 4,800 in 2010.
The study was based on US emergency room data for children age 3 years and younger who were treated between 2003 and 2010 for high chair-related injuries. On average, over 9,400 children were treated annually for an injury linked to a high chair or booster seat, the rough equivalent of one child every hour nationally.
The study also found that 93 percent of injuries associated with a high chair or booster seat included a fall. Among those cases that included information on what the child was doing just prior to a fall, two-thirds of the children injured were climbing or standing in the chair. The researchers said this was a sign that the chair’s restraint system was either was not being used or was ineffective.
“Families may not think about the dangers associated with the use of high chairs,” said study author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “High chairs are typically used in kitchens and dining areas, so when a child falls from the elevated height of the high chair, he is often falling head first onto a hard surface such as tile or wood flooring with considerable force. This can lead to serious injuries.”
The next most common injuries were bumps and bruises, 33 percent, and cuts, 19 percent. The head-neck area was the most common body area injured, at 59 percent, followed by the face, at 28 percent.
The study also looked at injuries related to traditional chairs. Over 40,000 injuries associated with conventional chairs were reported each year during the study period, the equivalent of four children every hour nationwide. Traditional chair-related injuries were more likely to be broken bones, cuts and bruises.
“The number one thing parents can do to prevent injuries related to high chairs is to use the safety restraint system in the chair,” said Smith, who is also a professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “The vast majority of injuries from these products are from falls. Buckling your child in every time you use the high chair can help keep them safe.”
In a press release on the study, Nationwide Children’s Hospital recommended that parents always use the safety straps on a high chair. Buckling the child in every time they sit down to eat will set a routine and keep the child safe by keeping them seated and secure, the hospital said.
The hospital also said parents should only use chairs with either a 3-point or 5-point harness that has a crotch strap or post. It also warned against parents considering the food tray as a safety restraint.