MONDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Since the first four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle (ATV) debuted in the mid-1980s, pediatric injuries and deaths related to the use of ATVs have increased notably, more than doubling between 1997 and 2006, according to research published online October 18 in the Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care.
Stephen M. Bowman, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and Mary E. Aitken, M.D., of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, generated national estimates of ATV-related hospitalizations for children by examining data from an all-payer inpatient care database for the period of 1997 through 2006.
The authors determined that the rate of total pediatric hospitalizations for ATV-related injuries increased 150 percent, from 1,618 in 1997 to 4,039 in 2006. The rate of ATV-related hospitalizations increased significantly for all age groups but was most pronounced in 15- to 17-year-olds. The rate of ATV hospitalizations for patients with traumatic brain injuries also increased significantly.
"ATVs are associated with a significant and increasing number of hospitalizations for children. Reexamination of previous federal policies, including the potential for a new consent decree between the Consumer Product Safety Commission and ATV industry representatives, should be considered to address this alarming trend and to adopt effective strategies to minimize the use by children. Enforceable state-level policy to promote helmet use among ATV riders seems to be critically needed," the authors write.