High chairs send more than 9,400 children to ER per year, study says

High chairs send more than 9,400 children to ER per year, study says

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The number of children injured by falling out of a high chair rose 22 percent in the past seven years, according to a new study.

An average of one child per hour is treated for injuries related to falling out of a high chair in the United States, researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital found.

"Families may not think about the dangers associated with the use of high chairs," said center director Gary Smith in a press release. "High chairs are typically used in kitchens and dining areas, so when a child falls from the elevated height of the high chair, he is often falling head first onto a hard surface such as tile or wood flooring with considerable force. This can lead to serious injuries."

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Researchers started looking at how many children 3-years-old and younger were treated in U.S. emergency departments for chair-related accidents in 2003 and continued until 2010. They said the number of children being injured increased dramatically during that period, with an average of 9,421 incidents per year.

"By the end of the study in 2010, there were around 11,000 kids being seen every year," Smith told Reuters Health.

Of the children who were injured, researchers said 93 percent were hurt as a result of falling. Not everyone reported what happened to cause the fall, but researchers found two-thirds of children injured were standing or climbing in the chair before the accident.

Tips to prevent injury

•Use safety restraints

•Keep chairs far enough away from tables and other furniture that children will not be able to kick them

•Keep area around the high chair clear

•Make sure the chair is stable

•Stay with the child while they eat

Information from the study

Children were diagnosed with concussions and internal bleeding, also known as closed head injuries (CHI), 37 percent of the time, with that number growing 90 percent during the duration of the study. There were 4,789 cases of CHI in 2010 compared to 2,558 in 2003.

Thirty-three percent of children had bumps or bruises and 19 percent had cuts, according to the study. The head and neck were injured most often, followed by the face.

To prevent injury, researchers suggested always using safety straps and making sure they are securely attached to the chair. Only chairs with three-point or five-point harnesses and a crotch strap or post should be used, they said. Trays will not stop children from falling, Smith said.

High chairs should also be placed far enough away from tables and other objects that children will not be able to kick them and knock their chairs over.

"The number one thing parents can do to prevent injuries related to high chairs is to use the safety restraint system in the chair," Smith said. "The vast majority of injuries from these products are from falls. Buckling your child in every time you use the high chair can help keep them safe."

The study was published in the journal "Clinical Pediatrics" on Dec. 9.

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Home & Family
Natalie Crofts

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