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Children's Health

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4,000-Plus Kids Hurt Each Year on Amusement Rides

Researchers call for standardized safety regulations to reduce injuries

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- More than 4,000 American children are injured on amusement rides each year, according to a new study that calls for standardized safety regulations.

Between 1990 and 2010, nearly 93,000 children under the age of 18 were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for amusement-ride-related injuries -- an average of nearly 4,500 injuries per year.

More than 70 percent of the injuries occurred from May through September, which means that more than 20 injuries a day occurred during these warm-weather months, said researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The head and neck region was the most frequently injured (28 percent), followed by the arms (24 percent), face (18 percent) and legs (17 percent). The most common types of injuries were soft tissue (29 percent), strains and sprains (21 percent), cuts (20 percent) and broken bones (10 percent).

The percentage of injuries that required hospitalization or observation was low, suggesting that serious injuries are rare. From May through September, however, an amusement-ride-related injury serious enough to require hospitalization occurs an average of once every three days, according to the study, which was published online May 1 and in the May print issue of the journal Clinical Pediatrics.

Youngsters were most likely to suffer injuries as a result of a fall (32 percent) or by either hitting a part of their body on a ride or being hit by something while riding (18 percent). Thirty-three percent of injuries occurred on amusement park rides, 29 percent on mobile rides at fairs and festivals, and 12 percent on rides at malls, stores, restaurants and arcades.

"Although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has jurisdiction over mobile rides, regulation of fixed-site rides is currently left to state or local governments, leading to a fragmented system," study senior author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a hospital news release. "A coordinated national system would help us prevent amusement-ride-related injuries through better injury surveillance and more consistent enforcement of standards."

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