Snowmobiles Pose Risks for Children

Head and bone injuries, cuts are typical injuries, study finds

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SATURDAY, Jan. 21, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Snowmobile accidents are a major cause of multiple trauma injuries in children and adolescents and more needs to be done to prevent such injuries, concludes a study in the January issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Helmet use, reduced speeds and increased regulation of snowmobiles are among the methods that can be used to decrease injuries in children and teens, the Mayo researchers said.

The study included 43 children age 18 and younger with snowmobile-related injuries treated at the Mayo Clinic Rochester between February 1992 and December 2001. Of these children and teens: 98 percent had orthopedic injuries; 28 percent, abdominal injuries; 19 percent, head injuries; 14 percent, skin lacerations; and seven percent, facial injuries. Overall, 46.5 percent of the patients had multiple injuries.

Children most likely to be injured included those who didn't wear a helmet; drivers; and those on a snowmobile traveling at 50 miles per hour or more, the study said.

"Clearly, helmet use should be a universal requirement for operating snowmobiles. Children under 16 should not operate snowmobiles at all, and all should be encouraged to reduce speed. This study reinforces the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, published in 2000," study co-author Dr. Scott Zietlow, a Mayo Clinic trauma surgeon, said in a prepared statement.

The study noted that the health and financial costs to society of snowmobile-related crashes are at an all-time high. These costs include long-term disabilities and follow-up of patients.

More information

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources offers these snowmobile safety tips.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, January 2006

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