Infant Walkers a Common Cause of Injury

I recently had the opportunity to write a blog regarding common questions brought to the clinician by parents of at-risk babies. In it, I discussed the dangers of trying to accelerate gait development by using baby walkers. Today, I found a recently published article in this regard. The article appeared in the journal Pediatrics and was published in October 2018, volume 142, issue 4. The authors were Ariel Sims, Thitphalak Chounthirath, Jingzhen Yang, Nichole L. Hodges, and Gary A. Smith. I am reproducing the abstract to the reader below:

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the epidemiologic characteristics of infant walker–related injuries among children <15 months old who were treated in US emergency departments and to evaluate the effect of the 2010 federal mandatory safety standard on these injuries.

 

METHODS: National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data from 1990 to 2014 were analyzed.

 

RESULTS: An estimated 230 676 children <15 months old were treated for infant walker–related injuries in US emergency departments from 1990 to 2014. Most of the children sustained head or neck injuries (90.6%) and 74.1% were injured by falling down the stairs in an infant walker. Among patients who were admitted to the hospital (4.5%), 37.8% had a skull fracture. From 1990 to 2003, overall infant walker–related injuries and injuries related to falling down the stairs decreased by 84.5% and 91.0%, respectively. The average annual number of injuries decreased by 22.7% (P = .019) during the 4-year period after the implementation of the federal mandatory safety standard compared with the 4-year period before the standard.

 

CONCLUSIONS: Infant walker–related injuries decreased after the implementation of the federal mandatory safety standard in 2010. This decrease may, in part, be attributable to the standard as well as other factors, such as decreased infant walker use and fewer older infant walkers in homes. Despite the decline in injuries, infant walkers remain an important and preventable source of injury among young children, which supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ call for a ban on their manufacture and sale in the United States.

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