According to a new report, between 1990 and 2010, an estimated 316,000 children five years or younger suffered injuries from strollers and baby carriers that were serious enough to land them in the ER.
The analysis found that in 1990, fewer than one in five accidents in strollers or baby carriers resulted in traumatic brain injuries or concussions. But by 2010, 42 percent of children in stroller accidents and 53 percent of babies in carrier accidents who were treated in emergency rooms were found to have suffered a brain injury or concussion.
The higher rate of brain injuries does not necessarily mean that strollers and carriers are more dangerous now than in the 1990s. It could be that physicians and other medical care providers have become more aware of traumatic brain injury and concussion and are reporting these types of injury, said Kristin J. Roberts, the study’s co-author and a research associate in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
The data showed that the majority of the injuries (55 percent) occurred in children who were younger than 1 year old, and most of the injuries occurred when children fell from a stroller or carrier or when they tipped over. The head and face most commonly took the brunt of the falls.
“It’s not uncommon to see a child who has fallen out of a carrier that was placed on a bed or a child who was not strapped into a stroller,” said Dr. Leslie Dingeldein, a pediatric emergency physician at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.
While the study showed that an average of 17,187 children each year end up in hospital emergency rooms because of stroller and carrier injuries, overall injury rates associated with these accidents declined over the 21-year period studied.
Roberts also noted that the incidences of stroller and carrier accidents might be even higher because the data doesn’t include injuries treated at pediatricians’ offices, private urgent care facilities or at home.
The study authors noted that in 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued updated standards that addressed potential stroller-related hazards such as hinges, brakes, buckles, structural integrity and stability. The new standards went into effect in September of 2015, after the study’s data collection period.
“The good news for parents who rely on strollers and carriers is that new federal mandatory safety standards for these products address many of the risks to children identified in this study,” Elliot Kaye, chairman of the safety commission, said in an email to the New York Times.
The Mayo Clinic offers these safety tips when baby is in a stroller:
• Stay close. Don't leave your baby unattended in his or her stroller.
• Be careful with toys. If you hang toys from a stroller bumper bar to entertain your baby, make sure that the toys are securely fastened.
• Buckle up. Always buckle your baby's harness and seat belt when taking him or her for a stroller ride.
• Use your brakes. Engage your stroller brakes whenever you stop the stroller.
• Properly store belongings. Don't hang a bag from the stroller's handle bar, which can make a stroller tip over.
• Take caution when folding. Keep your baby away from the stroller as you open and fold it, since small fingers can get caught in stroller hinges. Always make sure the stroller is locked open before you put your child in it.
• Keep it out of the sun. During hot weather, don't let your baby's stroller sit in the sun for long periods of time. This can cause plastic and metal pieces to become hot enough to burn your baby. If you leave the stroller in the sun, check the stroller's surface temperature before placing your baby in the stroller.
• Check for recalls. Return the stroller warranty card so that you'll be notified in case of a recall. If you're considering a used stroller, make sure the stroller hasn't been recalled.
The report was published in the journal Academic Pediatrics.
Story sources: Rachel Rabkin Peachman, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/08/17/more-head-injuries-reported-for-babies-in-stroller-accidents/