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Injury Prevention Across Childhood

Injury Prevention Across Childhood

McKenzie Pediatrics 2011

The following is a collection of injury statistics and injury prevention suggestions based on the most common injuries in different settings, ages, and seasons. We hope that you’ll take a few minutes to look them over.

Holiday-Related Injuries

Holidays create an atmosphere of excitement, jubilation, and often recklessness and poor parental supervision. The varied activities in which people participate during holiday seasons create environments in which injuries can easily occur. Visits to new locations, the introduction of new activities, decorations, etc., coupled with the possible reduction of supervision of children leads to an increase in injury rates as compared to non-holidays.

Most injuries that are sustained on holidays that require medical treatment are not holiday-specific, but are associated with more general activities. Overall, the majority of injuries occurring on holidays are related to sports and recreational activities, or related to home structure (stairs, ramps, floors) or home furnishings (coffee table, bed, tables, chairs).

From 1997 to 2006, an estimated 5.7 million holiday-related injuries (in other words, more than 500,000 each year!) sustained by children <19 years of age required treatment in an emergency department. The greatest number of injuries occurred on Labor Day followed by Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Halloween. Injuries that were associated with fireworks were more likely to occur on the Fourth of July than any other holiday, yet fireworks accounted for only a small proportion of Fourth of July injuries.

Overall, children younger than age 5 sustained a greater proportion of injuries on holidays than other age groups.

Help to reduce your child’s risk of injury around the holidays – every holiday – by:


Trampolines are often described as fun for kids and a way to get exercise. However, an estimated 100,000 people are injured on trampolines each year (70:10000 kids 0-4, 160:10000 kids 5-14). Most of these injuries happen on home trampolines, and to children.

Common injuries include ankle sprains (60%), broken bones (usually upper extremities, sometimes requiring surgery), concussions and other head injuries, sprains and strains, bruises, scrapes, and cuts. Neck and spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis or even death can and do occur (0.5% of all trampoline injuries seen in ED).

Children can be hurt on trampolines in many ways. Most injuries results from landing wrong while jumping, attempting stunts, colliding with another person (the smaller child is 14X more likely to be injured) on the trampoline, falling or jumping off the trampoline, or landing on the springs or frame of the trampoline.

Reduce your child’s risk of trampoline injury by purchasing only a trampoline with safety netting, and by placing the trampoline away from trees or building structures. Restrict use to ages 6 and older. Ban somersaults and flips. Ban water on the trampoline, such as placing a sprinkler underneath. Most importantly, enforce the rule that only one child may be on a trampoline at one time.

Choking Injuries

Choking is a leading cause of injury and death among children, especially those aged 5 years and younger. Food, coins, and toys are the primary cause of choking-related injury and death. Please review the following list of suggestions so to hopefully avoid your child becoming a choking victim:

Scalds and Burns

Each year, nearly 4000 deaths (1 in 8 are children) occur from fire and burns. In addition, 500,000 burn injuries (1 in 4 are children) are treated in hospital emergency rooms, and 25,000 are hospitalized in burn centers. Burns are painful, and can be cosmetically disfiguring and permanently disabling.

Reduce your child’s risk of household scald and fire burns by following these tips:


Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal unintentional injury resulting in an emergency department visit in infants under 1 year of age. An estimated 1.3 million U.S. infants were seen in an ED for an injury during the four-year period from 2001-2004, and just over 50 percent of these were due to a fall.

Most falls involve beds. Too often has it happened that parents have allowed their young infant to nap on the parent’s bed, only to discover by the suddenly crying infant who has fallen onto the floor that the infant has learned to roll.

Stairs and infant walkers are also common causes of falls in infants. Parents are encouraged to place a gate at the bottom and top of the stairs in the home where there is an infant 6 months of age or older. Parents are also greatly discouraged from purchasing an infant walker. Infant walkers are not only a leading cause of injury to infants, they delay the natural ability to walk!

Household Cleaners and Medications

Cases of unintentional household cleaning product-related and prescription medication-related injury have declined by 50 percent over the past two decades, nevertheless still over 12,000 children receive medical treatment in emergency departments each year for such injuries. Children 1 to 3 years of age account for 3/4ths of all cases.

The most common injuries attributable to household cleaning products is bleach. The most common source or container related to injury was spray bottles.

Examples of common household cleaning products that MUST be kept out of the reach of small children include: drain cleaners, ammonia, metal polishes, tarnish removers, turpentine, dishwasher detergents, swimming pool chemicals, oven cleaners, pine oil cleaners/disinfectants, laundry soaps/detergents, toilet bowl products, abrasive cleaners, general-purpose household cleaners, noncosmetic bleaches, windshield wiper fluids, lye, wallpaper cleaners, room deodorizers, acetone, and spot removers.

Obviously, such household products, as well as all medications (prescription OR over-the-counter) should be kept high and out of the reach of small children. And remember, small children are often little monkeys, easily climbing onto countertops or employing chairs and stepstools to reach higher cabinets. Therefore, any cabinet no matter how high that contains chemicals or prescription medications should be locked!!!