Scooters, Other Ride-on Toys Driving Increases Child Injuries: Report

Over the past 20 years, an increasing number of children are being injured by toys, according to the findings of a new study, with a significant number of those incidents involving foot-propelled scooters and other ride-on toys. 

Researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in Columbus, Ohio, report that toy-related injuries have increased by 40% over the last two decades. Their findings were published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.

The study is the first to comprehensively investigate toy-related injuries among children, and was led by Dr. Gary Smith, an injury prevention researcher and the hospital’s director.

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Researchers used nationally representative data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System from 1990 to 2011. They examined data on more than 3 million children under the age of 18 treated at emergency rooms.

The study revealed the injury rate per 10,000 children increased 40%. The initial rate of injury was found to be 19% in 1990, but it has increased to more than 26% by 2011.

The majority of injuries, 80%, occurred at home. More than 60% of children injured were male.

Researchers found nearly 150,000 cases were examined in emergency rooms annually, with the children requiring hospitalization in 43 percent of those incidents. In 2011, a child was treated in an emergency room for toy-related injuries every three minutes.

For children ages 2 to 17, ride-on toys, especially scooters popular with children of all ages, accounted for 42% of injuries. The injuries included accidents involving foot-powered scooters, wagons and tricycles. Ride-on toys were three times more likely to be associated with a fracture or dislocation compared with other toys, according to researchers.

Over the past 20 years, scooters have become popular in the consumer market. With their rise in popularity, hospital injury-rates spiked dramatically, the researchers found.

Researchers said an increasing number and rate of injuries were attributed to scooters, calling for increased efforts to prevent injuries. They underscored the need for children to wear helmets and other protective equipment, along with heightened parental awareness of the risks of these types of toys.

Other Toys Also Carried High Risks

Scooters were not the only toys linked to child injuries. Toy injuries parents have traditionally worried about, such as small parts that can be swallowed, are still a threat, researchers found.

The number and rate of injuries was the highest among two year old children. Children in this age group typically suffered choking injuries after swallowing small toys or parts, common to many types of toys.

Many new toys include magnets and small batteries that present a choking hazard. Magnets especially can attract in the digestive system of a child’s body, leading to severe injuries.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on September 25 that it had put new national safety standards in place affecting high-powered magnet sets, which have been sold as desk toys in recent years, featuring a large number of small rare earth magnets that can be manipulated into various shapes.

The new magnet rules come after several battles to require several manufacturers to recall their products, after finding that warnings provided are insufficient to avoid child and teen injuries.

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