According to a research project conducted at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a child under the age of three is injured in an accident involving baby products every eight minutes. That adds up to about 66,000 injuries a year, and this number has been rising over the past few years. This increase could be due to parents’ greater awareness of concussion symptoms, but manager of translational research at Nationwide Tracy Mehan doesn’t think that this raised awareness completely explains the increase.
Researchers at Nationwide went through twenty years of emergency room data and found that from 1991 to 2011, 1,391,844 children under the age of three were brought to the ER for injuries involving nursery products. More than half of all injuries occurred during the first year of life, with the highest proportion among infants 6 months to 11 months old (35.5%), and the majority of injuries occurred at home (87.9%). The leading cause of injury in these cases was a fall, and baby carriers and bedding were the products most often associated with injuries. Injuries stemming from carriers, bedding and other nursery products often happen due to product malfunctions or inadequate safety standards.
Research suggests that greater efforts are needed to prevent injuries associated with nursery products, especially baby carriers, cribs and strollers. Nursery products were the leading children’s products recalled in the United States from 2009-2012, and it is estimated that approximately 80% of recalled children’s products remain in households after a recall is issued. Hopefully, we will see some positive impact over time of improved safety standards and regulations, such as the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act passed by Congress in 2008.
In the meantime, Mehan recommends that parents follow the four R’s when it comes to nursery products: research, recalls, register, and read. Before bringing a new product home, parents are encouraged to look on sites of trusted organizations like Nationwide Hospital, Healthy Children, MakeSafeHappen, and Consumer Product Safety Commission to determine which products are safest for children. Parents can check for recalls at recalls.gov and even sign up to receive alerts. Registering a new product is an often overlooked but important precaution to take, as it allows the manufacturer to reach you if there is a recall. Finally, parents should take a few moments and read through the manual of a new product to understand how to use it in the safest way. With hundreds of thousands of nursery products on the market, deciding which ones are safest for your infant can be a daunting task, but being educated about the hazards, and how to evaluate products for safety, can help prevent tragedies involving the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society.