With Christmas just weeks away, many shoppers are searching for that perfect toy to give as a gift. However, a new study warns gift givers to take caution when buying toys: A child is treated for a toy-related injury every three minutes in the United States.
As published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, the study from senior author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury and Research policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, analyzed data from the US National Electronic Injury Surveillance System from 1990 through 2011.
The researchers discovered that emergency departments treated 3,278,073 children and adolescents age 17 and under for toy-related injuries between 1990 and 2011. More than half of the injuries occurred in children under the age of 5. The majority of injuries (80.2 percent) occurred in the home.
Riding toys such as foot-powered scooters, tricycles, and wagons caused 42.5 percent of injuries in children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 17 and 28 percent of injuries in children under the age of 5. Choking on small toys and/or small toy parts posed the greatest danger to children age 5 and under, with more than 109,000 young children inhaling or swallowing foreign objects during the time period. Injury rates peaked at age 2.
The researchers additionally found that the rate of toy-related injuries increased by 39.9 percent from 1990 to 2011. Foot-powered scooters, which gained in popularly in 2000, accounted for most of the increase in injuries.
Comments Dr. Smith on the findings:
“The frequency and increasing rate of injuries to children associated with toys, especially those associated with foot-powered scooters, is concerning.
“This underscores the need for increased efforts to prevent these injuries to children. Important opportunities exist for improvements in toy safety standards, product design, recall effectiveness and consumer education.”
Toys are an important tool for play. Parents and other caregivers can ensure the safety of child while playing with toys by following a few simple guidelines:
- Follow age restrictions and other manufacturer guidelines for all toys.
- Examine toys for small parts that could be choking hazards for young children.
- Use riding toys on dry, flat surfaces away from vehicle traffic.
- Closely supervise any child who is younger than 8 years of age on a riding toy.
- Wear helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads on scooters and other riding toys with wheels.
- Check Recalls.gov to see if toys that you own or may buy have been recalled.
In addition to injuries, toys can also contribute to the spread of illnesses. Another study published previously in the year found that two common bacteria that cause many infections in children and the elderly can live outside the human body on objects such as toys, books, and cribs for longer periods of time than previously thought.
A child is treated in a US emergency department every 3 minutes for a toy-related injuryhttp://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-12/nch-aci112514.php
Toy-related injuries among children treated in US emergency departments, 1990-2011: http://cpj.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/11/28/0009922814561353.abstract
Toy-related injuries in US increase by 40%: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286258.php
Boys on Toy Bike: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/952428