Baby Gate Problems Cause Thousands of Injuries for Children Each Year

While parents rely on baby gates to keep their toddlers and infants away from stairs and other potential dangers, a new study suggests that thousands of children are injured each year due to problems with the installation or use of these safety gates.

In a study published online by the medical journal Academic Pediatrics, researchers indicated that an average of nearly 2,000 injuries occur each year involving children under the age of six.

Researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio reviewed data on more than 37,000 children treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by child safety gates between 1990 and 2010. The retrospective analysis focused on data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

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Baby gate injuries more than tripled from 1990 to 2010, increasing from about four out of every 100,000 children being injured in baby gate accidents to more than 12 per 100,000 by the end of the 20 year period.

Lara McKenzie lead the research team which analyzed the data, finding 1,794 injuries occurred to children annually as a result of mishaps with baby gates.

Many of the safety gate problems were a result of children falling through the bars or from climbing on the devices and suffering a subsequent injury.

The majority of the injuries occurred to boys and more than 60% were in children who were under the age of two.

Children under the age of two were most likely to be injured during a fall down stairs after the baby gate had collapsed, usually after a child had climbed on the device.

Children ages two to six were most often injured by contact with the gate, causing it to open and injure the child. Those injuries resulted in open wounds 55% of the time and soft tissue injures 24% of the time.

Overall, most injuries were not serious injuries and did not pose a threat to the child’s life, however researchers say they were surprised by the prevalence of preventable injuries.

Child safety gates are the most widely used home safety products used to protect children from home hazards and injuries.

Researchers warn parents to take precautions to avoid injured children. They specifically recommend using bolted gates instead of pressure mounted devices for the top of the stairs. Those gates often result in unintentional opening and falls.

“Greater efforts are needed to promote proper usage, ensure safety in product design, and increase awareness of age-related recommendations for use of gates,” said McKenzie.


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