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Cribs Frequent Cause of Injury for Babies, Toddlers

Study: About 1 Child Every Hour Is Taken to ER After Being Hurt Around a Crib, Playpen, Bassinet
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Feb. 17, 2011 -- Nearly 10,000 children are taken to the emergency room each year -- an average of one every hour -- after falling or becoming wedged or caught in cribs, playpens, and bassinets, a new study shows.

“It’s certainly a very common source of injury,” says study researcher Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “We also recognize that this is an underestimate,” Smith says, because the study only looked at injuries reported to emergency rooms, not those treated by urgent care centers, doctors in private practice, or those that went without treatment at all. “So we’ve got a real problem.”

Experts say the study, which collected reports of injuries to children from hospital emergency rooms across the U.S. over 19 years, represents the first national look at this problem. The study comes in the midst of a flurry of regulatory activity over cribs and crib products that has culminated in the recalls of millions of items and the first new government-mandated safety standards in cribs issued in nearly two decades. 

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

The research was praised by government regulators and industry representatives for helping to increase awareness of dangers to children posed by unsafe sleep environments.

“The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association applauds any study which raises awareness of crib and sleep environment safety for parents,” Amy Chezem, communications director for the JPMA, which represents many crib manufacturers, says in a statement.

Researchers who were not involved in the study also praised its scope.

“I thought that it was an important study,” says Rachel Y. Moon, MD, a pediatrician and expert on sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

“You have to be careful no matter where your baby is. There are a lot of things that can be done to cribs, playpens, and bassinets that can make them safer,” Moon says.

How Kids Get Hurt in Cribs

More than 80% of the injuries involved cribs, and two-thirds of reported injuries occurred when children fell from the crib or jumped out.

About 15% of injuries resulted from falling inside the crib or hitting or being cut on the inside of the crib. About 6% resulted from becoming caught or wedged in the crib.

The vast majority of injuries were not life-threatening.

Soft-tissue injuries, including bruises and scrapes, were the most common, representing about a third of all reported injuries. But in about one in five cases, a child was rushed to the emergency room with a concussion. Fractures represented 12% of injuries; lacerations, or cuts, made up 14%.

“The thing about it, being a parent, is that children will roll over for the first time or sit up for the first time or stand for the first time when you’re not expecting it,” Smith says. “All of a sudden, one day, they’re doing it, and I think parents are just simply caught off-guard.”

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