THURSDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Each year in the United
States, nearly 10,000 children under the age of 2 arrive in
emergency rooms with injuries suffered while in cribs, playpens and
bassinets, a new report shows.
Most of these injuries involve cribs and are usually caused by
kids climbing out and falling on the floor, said the researchers
from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
"The most surprising thing to me was the number of crib-related injuries we found being treated in hospital emergency departments," said lead researcher Dr. Gary A Smith, a professor of pediatrics and director of the hospital's Center for Injury Research and Policy.
"This is an underestimate," he said. "We know that children are taken to their private physician and urgent care centers."
Smith noted that only about 1 percent of the injuries involved a
parent or sibling: "It appears that most of these falls are
children climbing out of the crib and falling."
In most cases, the children landed head first, Smith noted,
which "really makes this an issue that we should pay attention to."
Children at that age are top-heavy, so when they fall they fall
head first and don't have the ability to break their fall these
injuries can be serious, he explained.
Smith added that as the children became more mobile, the number
of injuries increased. "So, parents need to be cautious when a
child is in a crib and can start to pull himself up," Smith
When that happens, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission, you need to lower the height of the mattress in the
crib so there is at least 26 inches between the top of the mattress
and the top of the rail, Smith said.
And when the child reaches about 35 inches in height he or she
should be taken out of the crib and start using a toddler bed,
The report is published in the Feb. 17 online edition of
For the study, Smith's team used data from the National
Electronic Injury Surveillance System to identify the number of
children injured in cribs, playpens and bassinets from 1990 to
During that period, the researchers identified almost 182,000
children under 2 who were treated in emergency rooms for injuries
associated with these devices. That came to roughly 9,651 such
injuries a year.
The researchers found that 83.2 percent of the injuries involved
cribs, while playpens accounted for 12.6 percent of the injuries
and bassinets accounted for 4.2 percent.
The most common cause of injury was falling from the crib,
playpen or bassinet. These falls accounted for two-thirds of the
injuries, Smith's group found.
The head and neck were the areas of the body that were most
commonly injured, making up 40.3 percent of the injuries. Most
injuries were soft tissue injuries (34.1 percent).
Kids with fractures were kept in the hospital 14 percent of the
time and were more than five times more likely to be admitted than
children with other injuries, Smith's group noted.
Smith believes the findings are a call to action to build
better-designed cribs that protect children and make falls less
Right now, parents should only use cribs that meet current
standards. That includes cribs with no drop sides, which have been
banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. So, parents have
to be particularly careful with hand-me-down cribs, Smith said.
Smith also advises that when putting the baby in the crib be
sure there is no bedding, stuffed toys or bumpers in the crib. "All
these products have been associated with suffocation deaths," he
"Young infants need to be placed in a crib that's bare, just the child and the crib," he said. "Just dress the child warmly in a sleeper and place him into a bare crib."
"Despite these findings, cribs are still the safest sleeping environment for infants and young babies," Smith added. Having the baby sleep with the parents increases the risk of suffocation, he noted.
Amy Chezem, a spokeswomen for the Juvenile Products
Manufacturers Association, said that "each year hundreds of deaths
occur when children are placed in a sleep environment that is not
specifically designed for children. The safest place for a child is
in a fully functional, properly assembled crib."
In addition, the association "reminds parents of how important
it is to carefully follow the manufacturer instructions,
recommendations and restrictions on all sleep-related products to
ensure the safest environment possible."
For tips on keeping your child safe in a crib, visit the
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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