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Children's Health

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Fall From Bunk Bed Can Land Kid in ER

Study Shows Bunk Bed-Related Injuries Common
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 2, 2008 -- Did you have a bunk bed as a child? Do you remember falling out of it, or seeing your brother roll off the edge? If so, you're not alone.

A new study shows that bunk bed-related injuries are quite common. Researchers at Ohio State University tracked emergency room bunk bed-related injuries across the U.S. from 1990 to 2005.

They looked at injuries to an estimated 572,580 children and adolescents younger than 21.

Mothers of sons may not be surprised to learn that bunk bed mishaps happened more frequently (nearly 61%) to boys and young men.

Here are more of the findings, leading with the most common types of injuries:

  • Nearly 30% of injuries were cuts
  • 24% of injuries were bruises or scrapes
  • 19% of injuries were bone fractures

Other Key Findings

  • The head and neck were the most common parts of the body to be injured in all age groups. 27% of all injuries were to the head and neck.
  • 72.5% of injuries resulted from falling out of bunk beds.
  • 93.5% of the mishaps happened at home.

"Our study found that bunk bed-related injuries can be severe and require hospital admission. In addition to children less than 6 years of age, young adults have a significantly increased risk of injury from bunk beds in schools, recreational sports facilities, and public properties," according to prepared statements from co-author Lara McKenzie, PhD, of Ohio State University College of Medicine.

  • Half of those incidents that happened at schools involved older people, aged 18 to 21 years old. It's not known why, although injuries may be taking place in college dormitories or military settings.
  • Half of all bunk bed-related injuries happen to children younger than 6.

Study authors Anjali D'Souza and Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, of Ohio State University College of Medicine urge greater awareness to help reduce accidents around bunk beds.

Bunk Bed Safety Tips

  • Make sure guardrails are used on both sides of the upper bunk.
  • Use a proper-sized mattress.
  • Keep kids younger than 6 out of the top bunk.
  • Use night lights to help children see the ladder at night.
  • Keep bunks far away from ceiling fans or ceiling fixtures.

The findings appear in the June edition of the journal Pediatrics.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has safety standards for bunk beds. You can view them at

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