More than 66,000 children younger than three go to the emergency room annually for accidents involving nursery products, according to a new study. That's about one every eight minutes.
A Nationwide Children's Hospital study published in the Pediatrics journal Monday looked at emergency room visits over a 21-year period, January 1991 through December 2011. Research showed nursery product-related injuries increased nearly 25% within the last eight years of the study.
In eighty percent of the injury cases, the baby fell out of the product. For the purposes of the study, the term nursery products encompassed a host of baby products, including baby walkers, bouncers and changing tables. Most common injuries occurred with baby carriers (20%), cribs/mattresses (19%) and strollers (17%). Eighty-one percent of the injuries affected the head, face or neck.
Tracy Mehan, researcher at Nationwide Children's Hospital, told USA TODAY the purpose of the study wasn't to point a finger at parents, but at manufacturers.
"If the products had a different design that made them easier to use, there would be less injury," Mehan said.
The study's lead author and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Gary Smith, previously worked on a 2001 American Academy of Pediatrics position statement outlining design flaws of baby walkers. Then, manufactures responded, widening baby walkers and changing wheels, making it more difficult for children to roll down the stairs. Mehan said she hopes this study inspires similar change.
In the meantime, there are ways parents can ensure their items are safe, and they are safely using them. Mehan said use the four "Rs": Research, check for recalls, register the product and read the manuals (from front to back). To check for recalls, visit www.recalls.gov. (Parents can also sign up for recall email alerts on the site.) Up to 80% of recalled children's products aren't returned, said Smith in a release.
Families that don't buy new products should be extra cautious, Mehan said. She warned not to use a crib made before June 2011, because of new safety standards. Also, avoid using used car seats, because the history of the product can affect its safety. For example, a car seat that survived a crash is often weak, she said.