Almost 10,000 infants and toddlers are injured annually in crib, bassinet and play yard accidents, according to researchers from the American Academy of Pediatrics who analyzed national 1990-2008 data on emergency room-treated injuries in children age 2 and under from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Overall, 181,654 children were injured in the 19-year period, and 2,140 children died (excluding crib-related deaths in infants and toddlers who did not receive ER treatment), most of whom were infants under 6 months and involved a diagnosis of cardiopulmonary arrest or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The high injury rate may even be an underestimate, according to lead study author Gary Smith, MD, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He says many parents take kids to their private physician or an urgent care center in lieu of an ER.
Most of the injuries involved cribs (83.2%), followed by play yards (12.6%) and bassinets (4.2%), according to the study, which was released online this morning by the AAP’s medical journal Pediatrics ahead of its March issue, and timed for a U.S. House subcommittee hearing today on consumer product safety issues. Overall, two-thirds of the injuries were due to falls, but that proportion increased with age, probably because of increased mobility and climbing skills. The two most frequently injured body parts were the head or neck (40.3%) and face (27.5%), likely because most children landed head first after trying to climb out of their cribs. Almost 94% percent of the children were treated and released and did not need hospitalization.
Researchers recommend better prevention efforts and the creation and implementation of safety measures in the design and construction of cribs, play yards, and bassinets. Recent safety measures (including the ban on drop-side cribs, which have been linked to dozens of injuries and deaths, and of which millions have already been recalled) may help to reduce these numbers, which declined gradually between 1990 and 2008. Unfortunately, though, even in the most recent years examined, 26 infants were injured in crib-related accidents daily, according to Dr. Smith.
To help prevent injuries, Smith advises parents to keep the inside of the crib bare (no pillows, bumpers, or stuffed animals), lower the crib’s mattress when children grow tall enough to lean over the rails, and never leave children unattended when the drop side of a crib is lowered. He also suggests moving kids to toddler beds when they reach 35 inches tall.