A surprising number of young children and infants are falling out of high chairs and thousands of cases each year result in emergency room visits, according to a new safety study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System involving high chair, booster seat, and normal chair-related injuries that occurred between 2003 and 2010 among children ages 3 and younger. They found, on average, about 9,500 young children and infants are sent to emergency rooms with high chair-related injuries each year, or about one infant per hour. The vast majority of cases involve children younger than age 1.
More than 90 percent of the falls involved toddlers, and 85 percent of those injuries were to the head and face. Researchers say this is due to a toddler’s center of gravity being closer to the chest rather than the waist as it is with adults.
About two-thirds of high chair injuries involved children who had either been standing or climbing on the chair just before they fell. Often times high chairs are placed on solid surfaces, such as tile or hardwood, providing little or no cushioning. And, because high chairs are often higher above the ground than traditional chairs, there is a real potential for serious injury.
The most frequent emergency room diagnosis after a high-chair fall was concussion or internal head injuries. Head traumas accounted for more than a third of high chair injuries. Face injuries occurred in just less than a third of cases.
What’s even more alarming is the rate of falls has increased by 22 percent within the study period, and head traumas have increased by nearly 90 percent.
The reasons are hard to pinpoint but the fault may lie with both parents and manufacturers of high chairs. The chairs may be relatively safe, but the restraints may not be working as they should or not used properly by parents.
Also, during the study period, 3.5 million high chairs were recalled. However even highly educated and informed parents are not always fully aware of recalls when they occur.
To keep your child safe, experts recommend locking wheels in place for high chairs that have wheels, and positioning the chair away from walls or counters. Parents and caregivers should also always use the restraints and never rely on the tray to hold the child in place.
Source: U.S. News