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Child Injured on Stairs Every 6 Minutes

Children Being Carried Down the Stairs Are 3 Times More Likely to Be Hospitalized
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

March 12, 2012 -- Every six minutes a young child in the U.S. is treated in the emergency room for a stair-related injury, according to a new study.

Overall, researchers say an average of more than 93,000 children under the age of 5 were treated for stair-related injuries in an emergency room each year between 1999 and 2008. But the number of injuries decreased by about 12% during that time.

Researchers found that the number of young children who were injured while being carried on the stairs accounts for about a quarter of injuries among children under age 1. These children are also more than three times more likely to be hospitalized as a result of their injuries than children who were injured in other ways.

“Stair-related injuries are on the decline but still represent an important source of injury to young children,” write researcher Ashley Zielinsky of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues in Pediatrics. “Increased prevention efforts are needed, including parental education and improved stairway design.”

Stair Safety Still an Issue

In the study, researchers analyzed information from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the Consumer Product Safety Commission from 1999 to 2008.

The results showed an estimated 931,886 children under the age of 5 were treated for stair-related injuries in U.S. emergency rooms during the study period.

Most of the injuries occurred as a result of the child falling down the stairs on his or her own. But 25% of children under age 1 were injured while they were carried on the stairs, and 16% fell in a baby walker.

The majority of injuries were bruises and other soft tissue injuries, which accounted for 35% of injuries. About three-fourths of the children had injuries to the head and neck area, and nearly 3% were hospitalized as the result of their injuries.

In addition, an estimated10,000-plus injuries were reported when children fell down the stairs in a stroller or carriage. In many cases, the child was strapped in, but it was not enough to prevent injuries.

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