April 28, 2017

Baby carriers, cribs, and strollers are surprisingly dangerous, study finds

Daily Briefing

Common nursery products cause an average of 66,000 injuries annually that require young children to visit to an ED, according to a study published last month in Pediatrics.

For the study, researchers from the Nationwide Children's Hospital's Center for Research and Policy analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) on patients younger than 3 years who sustained an injury associated with a nursery product from 1991 to 2011. The data—which excluded cases involving a motor vehicle crash, diaper rash, animal bite, dermatitis, or conjunctivitis—contained records of 48,653 instances of such injuries among children younger than age 3. About 100 hospitals, including eight children's hospitals, contribute data to NEISS.

Key findings

Using the NEISS sample, the researchers estimated that 1.39 million children ages 3 and younger were treated in U.S. EDs for nursery product–related injuries from 1991 to 2011, averaging about 56.29 injuries per 10,000 children.

According to the study, the annual injury rate decreased by 33.9 percent from 1991 to 2003. The researchers attributed the decrease to a decline in incidents related to baby walkers, jumpers, and exercisers.

However, the researchers identified a subsequent 23.7 percent increase in the annual injury rate from 2003 to 2011. The researchers attributed the increase in part to a rise in concussions and closed head injuries related to nursery products, which accounted for about 25 percent of the uptick, the New York Times reports.

Overall, the researchers estimated that:

  • Baby carriers caused 19.5 percent of nursery-related injuries among children ages 3 and younger;
  • Cribs/mattresses caused 18.6 percent of the injuries;
  • Strollers/carriages caused 16.5 percent of the injuries; and
  • Baby walkers/jumpers/exercisers caused 16.2 percent of the injuries.

The researchers wrote that "the most common mechanism of injury was a self-precipitated fall," which accounted for 80 percent of the injuries, "and the most frequently injured body region was the head or neck," which accounted for 41.7 percent of the injuries.

Recommendations

The researchers wrote, "Greater efforts are warranted to prevent injuries associated with … nursery products, especially baby carriers, cribs, and strollers."

Gary Smith, the study's senior author and director of the Nationwide Children's Hospital's Center for Research and Policy, suggested that people purchasing or using nursery products should:

  • Keep the handles of a stroller clear;
  • Purchase cribs manufactured after 2011, when safety standards were changed, and remove any blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and stuffed animals from cribs; and
  • Use the harness on a baby carrier properly.

The researchers also called for additional studies "to better define the factors contributing to the observed increase in concussions" and closed head injuries related to nursery products (Bakalar, New York Times, 4/24; Gaw et al., Pediatrics, March 2017).

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