Holidays Can Hurt Kids
Sports, Recreation Often Behind Children's Injuries During Holidays
April 5, 2010 -- Holidays can pose a safety risk to young people, but most
injuries aren’t related to the festivities. Sports and recreational activities,
home structures, and furnishings are the most common culprits, researchers
The finding comes from a study of holiday-related injuries to 5.7 million
youths aged 19 and younger who were treated in emergency rooms between 1997 and
The most dangerous holiday in terms of injuries is the five-day period
surrounding Labor Day, followed by Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and
Not surprisingly, injuries from fireworks were more likely to occur on the
Fourth of July than on other holidays, although fireworks accounted for just
2.9% of July 4 emergency room visits.
The authors say public health officials and the media traditionally stress
prevention that is holiday specific but that parents should be on guard for
routine causes, too.
Fewest Injuires at Christmas
Other study findings:
- Children under 5 had more injuries than other age groups.
- The face, finger, hand, and head were the most commonly injured body
- The most commonly diagnosed injuries were cuts, bruises, abrasions,
fractures, sprains, and strains.
- The majority of holiday injuries were linked to sports and recreation.
- Injuries related to home structures and furnishings were prevalent.
Many studies have focused on holiday-specific injuries, such as cuts while
children are carving Halloween pumpkins or fireworks burns on July 4. This
study, however, was the first to compare injuries suffered on a five day period
associated with each of eight common holidays -- New Year’s, Easter, Memorial
Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
“Parents should be aware that holidays present a risk not only for
holiday-specific injuries but also for more general, ‘everyday’ injuries,” the
Other interesting findings:
- Holiday injuries to youths 19 and under decreased from 1997 to 2006.
- Christmas was the holiday with the fewest injuries.
- Fourth of July injuries decreased significantly in the period studied.
- Boys accounted for 62.4% of injuries.
- 29.2% of injuries involved cuts, 18.3% bruises/abrasions, 15.1% fractures,
and 13% sprains/strains.
- 65.9% of injuries to the face involved cuts.
- For head injuries, 33.1% involved cuts, 32.3% internal, 17.6%
bruises/abrasions, and 10.3% concussions.
- Children younger than 5 sustained a greater proportion of head injuries
(21.9%) than children 5 and over (9.7%).
- The most commonly injured body part among kids 10-14 and 15-19 was the
finger or hand.
- In 96.8% of holiday injuries during the period studied, patients were
treated and released from emergency departments and only 1.7% required
- An estimated 0.03% of injuries during holiday periods resulted in deaths.
The most common causes of death were submersion/drowning and
cardiac/respiratory arrest. Twenty-nine of 60 deaths occurred among children
under 5. The greatest number of deaths, 13, occurred on the Fourth of July,
followed by 9 on the New Year’s holiday period.
The researchers conclude that “holiday injury prevention efforts that focus
on general risk factors in addition to holiday-specific risks could be expected
to have a greater impact on decreasing pediatric injury rates in the United
Future injury prevention efforts should target Labor Day and Memorial Day,
the researchers say, because those have the highest rates of injury of all