Every six minutes. That’s how often a child younger than five years of age is treated in a hospital emergency room for a stair-related injury, according to a new report.
Researchers at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital found more than 93,000 American children younger than 5 years of age were treated for stair-related injuries from 1999 through 2008.
The study, reported in the journal Pediatrics, noted one bright spot: The number of such injuries declined during the course of the study.
"While we are pleased to see a declining trend in the number of stair-related injuries, stairs continue to be a common source of injury among young children," said lead researcher Dr. Gary Smith, director of the hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Policy. "Through a combination of educating parents, use of stair gates, and modifying building codes to make stairs safer, we can prevent these types of injuries."
Researchers found most children younger than 1 were more likely than older children to be injured while they were being carried down the stairs. In all children, most injuries were to the head and neck.
To prevent injuries, the researchers recommend:
• Keep stairs free of clutter and in good repair
• Install a handrail if one is not available
• Use stair gates at both the top and the bottom of stairs
• Avoid carrying a child on the stairs when possible. Place him or her in a safe place, such as a crib, when you need to use the stairs
• When a child begins to use stairs on his own, teach him or her to hold onto the handrail, ask an adult for help taking something up or down stairs, keep toys off of the stairs and don’t play or jump on stairs.
Information for the study was based on U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission data.