The following study is geared towards those who have a young child using a high chair. If you don’t have child in this age group, you might want to share it with someone you know who does.
A new safety study documents that high chair accidents have increased 22 percent between 2003 and 2010; U.S. emergency room physicians are seeing almost 9,500 high chair-related injuries each year. Most of the children seen are under one year of age.
In the study, published online Dec. 9 in Clinical Pediatrics, the authors analyzed information collected by the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The data concerned all high chair, booster seat, and normal chair-related injuries that occurred between 2003 and 2010 and involved children 3 years old and younger. Data demonstrated that high chair/booster chair injuries rose from 8,926 in 2003 to 10,930 by 2010.
“We know that these injuries can and do happen, but we did not expect to see the kind of increase that we saw,” said study co-author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
“Most of the injuries, over 90 percent, involve falls with young toddlers whose center of gravity is high, near their chest, rather than near the waist as it is with adults,” Smith said. “So when they fall… they topple, which means that 85 percent of the injuries we see are to the head and face.”
“Because the fall is from a seat that’s higher than the traditional chair and typically onto a hard kitchen floor, the potential for a serious injury is real,” he added.”This is something we really need to look at more, so we can better understand why this seems to be happening more.”
Roughly two-thirds of high chair accidents involved children who had been either standing or climbing in the chair just before their fall, the study authors noted. Their conclusion: Chair restraints either aren’t working as they should, or parents are not using them properly.
“In recent years, there have been millions of high chairs recalled because they do not meet current safety standards. Most of these chairs are reasonably safe when restraint instructions are followed, but even so, there were 3.5 million high chairs recalled during our study period alone,” said Smith. “However, even highly educated and informed parents aren’t always fully aware of a recall when it happens,” he noted.
According to the study, the most frequent ER diagnosis after a high chair fall is a concussion or internal head injury, otherwise known as a “closed head injury.” This type of head trauma accounted for 37 percent of high chair injuries, and its frequency climbed by nearly 90 percent during the eight years studied.
Nearly six in 10 children experienced an injury to their head or neck after a high chair fall, while almost three in 10 experienced a facial injury, the study found.
Injuries related to falls from traditional chairs were more likely to be broken bones, cuts and bruises.
“For now,: Smith said, “the top three things parents can do to ensure their child’s safety: Use the restraint, use the restraint, use the restraint!”
“The tray is not meant to be a restraint. Children need to be buckled in,” he added.
“Also, supervision is a must. Stay with your child during meal time and make sure he or she doesn’t defeat the restraint,” he said. “Even if a chair does meet current safety standards and the restraint is used properly, there’s never 100 percent on this . . . Parents will always need to be vigilant. Also, if the high chair has wheels, lock them in place. Make sure the high chair is stable, and position it away from walls or counters that the child can push against.”
SOURCE: HealthDay News, 2013 Clinical Pediatrics, online