Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Home / News and Events / News Releases / Falls are a leading cause of injury to children
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Falls are a leading cause of injury to children
December 2, 2013

Kids will be kids and fall and hurt themselves all the time. Not a big deal right? Wrong! Falls are a leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits among children.

Each year, about 2.8 million children have an initial emergency department visit due to an injury from a fall. For children less than 1 year of age, falls account for over 50 percent of nonfatal injuries. Falls cause 50 percent of traumatic brain injuries among children from birth to 14 years.

During the last week, Children’s Hospital has treated seven patients with fall-related injuries. These injuries were the result of slipping and tripping with an infant in the arms, fall from a couch, bed or stairs and car seat fall from a shopping cart.

What are the most common causes of falls and why?

The majority of infant falls occur at home. Usually, these are a result of falling from an elevated surface such as a bed, sofa, chair, kitchen counter, stairs, or changing table.

Fall safety for children at home

At home, fall safety for children hinges on five basic precautions.

1. Beware of heights

  • Never leave a baby alone on a bed, changing table or piece of furniture. The one time you leave baby alone may be the one time your child rolls over. Having a pillow or cushion next to the child will not prevent them from falling over.
  • Child safety devices, such as safety belts and straps, should always be used when available. This will reduce the risk of your child falling out of their car seat, high chair, or carrier.
  • Infant carriers should be placed on a stable surface, preferably the floor.

 2. Furniture tip-overs

  • Move furniture away from windows.
  • Use furniture straps to secure all dressers, TV stands, bookshelves and any other top-heavy furniture or furniture that may become top heavy when a drawer is opened.
  • Remove items that are appealing to children from the top of furniture.
  • Do not allow your child to play or jump on furniture.

3. Address slipping and tripping

  • Anything that’s left on the floor can present a hazard, such as shoes, newspapers, or books. Pick up things that are in high-traffic areas and never leave items on stairs.
  • Keep stairs free of clutter and secure area rugs so as to avoid tripping and falling.
  • When your child is learning to crawl and walk, install safety gates at both top and bottom of stairs. Avoid accordion style gates, which can trap an arm or a neck.
  • Stay clear of baby walkers: Baby walkers should not be used. Babies using them may tip over, fall out, or fall down stairs.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following alternatives to baby walkers:

  • Stationary walkers: These devices have seats that rotate and bounce but do not have wheels.
  • Playpens: These enclosed areas are great safety zones for children as they learn to sit, crawl, or walk.
  • High chairs: Older children often enjoy sitting up in high chairs and playing with toys on the tray.

4. Keep windows locked and screens in place

  • Do not rely on insect screens to keep children from falling out of windows. Screens are meant to keep bugs out, not kids inside.
  • Install window guards on all windows above the first floor.
  • Use window stops to prevent a window from opening.

5. Shopping cart falls

Injuries resulting from a shopping cart tipping over can be severe.

  • Do not put an infant carrier on top of the shopping cart. Consider using a stroller instead of the shopping cart.
  • Always buckle your youngster into his infant carrier with the provided harness.
  • Do not allow older kids to stand in or on any part of the shopping cart.

Remember, there is no substitute for supervision.

Tags: Safety
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