When Fireworks Injure, It's Kids Who Pay the Price

Approximately 85,800 children were hurt between 1990 and 2003, study finds

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MONDAY, July 3, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Children are at risk of getting seriously hurt by fireworks even if they aren't the ones setting them off, according to new research released on the eve of the Independence Day holiday.

And parental supervision is no guarantee against injury, the researchers added.

Between 1990 and 2003, approximately 85,800 cases of fireworks-related injuries in children were reported, and in 54 percent of the cases, the parents were right there, according to the study done by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Columbus Children's Hospital in Ohio.

The average age of the injured children was 11, and the majority -- 80 percent -- were male. Burns were the most common injury in 60 percent of the cases, and the most commonly injured body sites were the eyeball, face and hands.

Firecrackers caused almost 30 percent of accidents, sparklers about 20 percent, and aerial fireworks around 17 percent.

"Children who were injured while playing with fireworks themselves accounted for approximately half of the injuries," said study co-author Rachel Witsaman, a CIRP staff member, in a prepared statement. "Even more concerning was that one-fourth of injuries occurred to bystanders. This means that a child is at risk of injury simply by being near where fireworks are being used."

The study, based on data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, showed that approximately 92 percent of all injured children were treated and released from hospital emergency departments, 5.3 percent were admitted, and 2.3 percent were transferred to another institution.

"Parents should be advised to take their children to safer public fireworks displays, rather than allowing consumer fireworks to be used by or near their children," said study author Dr. Gary Smith, director of CIRP.

"Every type of legally available consumer firework has been associated with serious injury or death," he added. "A national ban of the sale and use of consumer fireworks, in accordance with the policy recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, should be implemented in order to reduce the burden of fireworks-related injuries among children."

Another study author and CIRP staff member, Dawn Comstock, noted that the research "was limited to fireworks injuries treated in hospital emergency departments. The actual number is certainly higher when considering those who did not seek medical treatment or were cared for by other health-care providers."

The study findings are published in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics.

More information

For more information on the hazards of fireworks, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.

SOURCES: Columbus Children's Research Institute at Columbus Children's Hospital, Ohio, news release, July 3, 2006

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