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High Chair Falls Injure Thousands of Kids Each Year

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May 1, 2001 (Baltimore) -- Youngsters who aren't buckled into their high chairs could take a nasty spill and wind up in the emergency department, researchers warned today at the Pediatric Academic Societies' Annual Meeting. In fact, at least 8,000 U.S. children are victims of high chair mishaps each year, according to the researchers' estimates.

"Most of the injuries involved the head or face," says lead researcher Elizabeth Powell, MD, from Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. During the five-year study, the team saw that infants sustained a large number of bruises and scrapes, cuts, and some internal injuries. Of the 2% admitted to the hospital, 38% suffered a broken bone.

The moral of the study, says Powell: "Buckle 'em up before they chow down." She also says that injuries related to high chairs are particularly common in the first-year of life and that using the restraint would solve that problem.

There were no noticeable differences among the different types of high chairs in terms of type or frequency of injury. However, more than 5,000 of the injuries involved attachable high chairs, according to records from emergency room admissions. About 4,000 injuries were related to use of a youth chair.

The research is based on data from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Powell and her colleagues assessed data collected from 1994 to 1998 from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The researchers learned of more than 40,000 high chair-related injuries to children 3 years old or younger that required emergency room treatment. That computes to an estimated 8,000 infants and toddlers involved in chair-related injuries per year.

And just why are infants and toddlers being injured in high chairs?

Powell says 94% of the injuries result from kids falling from the high chair, often because they are not restrained. Only 4% of the injuries happened because the chair tipped over. Another 2% of the injuries happened when the child's hands or feet were caught in the chair or when the chair malfunctioned.

Powell says the problem with high chairs may be even greater than the data suggest, because a large number of injured children aren't treated in the emergency room.

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