By Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Dec. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Here's a sobering statistic to ponder before buying holiday gifts for your kids: A new study shows that a child with a toy-related injury is treated in a U.S. emergency department every 3 minutes.
Much of that increase was due to one type of toy: foot-powered scooters.
The researchers found that about 3.3 million children with toy-related injuries were treated in ERs between 1990 and 2011, and the toy-related injury rate rose nearly 40 percent during that time.
"The frequency and increasing rate of injuries to children associated with toys, especially those associated with foot-powered scooters, is concerning," study senior author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said in a hospital news release.
Slightly more than half of toy-related injuries occurred among children younger than 5. Children under 3 years of age were at particular risk of choking on small toys and small parts of toys, the findings showed. And there were more than 109,000 cases of children younger than 5 years swallowing or inhaling "foreign bodies" during the study period, or nearly 14 cases a day.
Injuries involving riding toys such as foot-powered scooters, wagons and tricycles increased as children got older, accounting for 42 percent of injuries among children aged 5 to 17, and 28 percent of injuries among children younger than 5.
Injuries involving ride-on toys were three times more likely to involve a broken bone or dislocation than other toys, according to the study published online Dec. 1 in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.
Falls (46 percent) and collisions (22 percent) were the most common causes of injuries caused by all types of toys, the investigators found.
The researchers highlighted the dangers of foot-powered scooters, which accounted for more than 580,000 injuries between 2000 and 2011, or about one every 11 minutes.
Smith offered some safety tips for parents and caregivers.
- Read and follow age restrictions and other manufacturer guidelines for toys, and examine all toys for small parts that could pose choking hazards for small children.
- Restrict the use of riding toys to dry, flat surfaces away from traffic, and closely supervise any child who is younger than 8 on a riding toy. Make children wear helmets, knee pads and elbow pads when they use scooters and other riding toys with wheels.
- Check the federal government's recall website (Recalls.gov) to see if toys you own or plan to buy have been recalled.