Injuries in High Chairs, Infant Seats Increasing Nationwide: Study

New research suggests that high chair injuries are on the rise nationwide, and there are certain steps that parents and caregivers can take to reduce the risk of infants suffering potentially serious injuries.

In a study published in the medical journal Clinical Pediatrics on December 9, researchers indicate that injuries among infants and young children involving high chairs increased by 22% from 2003 to 2010, with more than 10,000 high-chair problems resulting in injuries in 2010.

Researchers found more than 400,000 injuries associated with high chairs from 2003 through 2010, with nearly 9,500 children injured in high chair-related injuries each year. Approximately one child is brought to the emergency room every hour with injuries sustained from a high chair, the findings suggest.

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The study involved an analysis of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which gathers information from more than 100 hospitals across the United States.

The most common cause of injury, making up nearly 93% of high chair injuries, was falling from the chair. Nearly 37% of high chair related fall injuries resulted in head injuries, such as concussions and traumatic brain injury, a number that nearly doubled between 2003 and 2010. More than 30% of children who fell suffered mild bumps and bruises, and 19% had cuts.

Improper Use of Restraints May Play A Role

Nearly two-thirds of the injuries occurred when children were standing in high chairs or attempting to climb out of them, suggesting that many injuries occur due to a failure to use the chair restraints properly.

“High chairs are typically used in kitchens and dining areas, so when a child falls from the elevated height of the high chair, he is often falling head first onto a hard surface such as tile or wood flooring with considerable force,” said Gary Smith, lead author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “This can lead to serious injuries. The numbers did not include information for injuries not reported to the emergency room, like children who fell but were taken to their pediatrician instead.”

More than 40,000 chair related injuries were recorded for the same time period. The research showed children injured during chair related incidents were more likely to suffer broken bones, cuts or bruises.

Researchers are unsure of what prompted the increase, but it may be attributed to a number of factors. Parents may be more aware of the danger head injuries may have on children. This may prompt them to seek emergency medical attention after a fall, instead of treating it at home. Another possibility may be more high chairs were in use during 2010 than 2003, or more high chairs were kept in homes after being recalled.

Researchers warn parents to be cautious when placing a child in a high chair and to never leave the child unattended. Foremost, they caution parents to use safety restraints in the high chair and to never use the tray in lieu of a restraint.


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