Youngsters Endangered by Falling TVs

Kids can suffer serious injury when sets tumble, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, June 14, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- With "home theater" TV sets getting bigger all the time, a new U.S. study warns consumers of the danger to children should these sets tip over.

An estimated 2,300 children each year are injured by falling TVs and are sent to the emergency room because of their injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center studied data on ER visits for 26 children -- aged 1 to 7 years old -- admitted to the ER after being hit by a falling television between November 2003 and October 2004. One-third of the children sustained injuries serious enough to be admitted to the hospital and stayed for between one to four days.

Of the 26 cases, 14 involved head injuries, nine entailed injuries to a limb, and one patient received surgery to repair a cut on the face. About three-fourths of parents said that at the time of the accident the child was climbing on furniture.

"Our data indicated a lack of parental awareness and an absence of primary prevention as a root cause for this problem," study author Dr. Floyd Ota, an assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern, said in a prepared statement.

Sixty-five percent of the injuries were caused by 20-30 inch televisions, according to the report, which is published in the June issue of Academic Emergency Medicine. Eighty-five percent of the TVs fell from a height of between two and five feet above the floor.

"The majority of the weight is placed toward the front of the unit," said Dr. Ota. "If the television is not placed on a stable display area, or if the display area is not secured, the imbalanced weight distribution increases the potential for toppling forward."

The researchers noted that TV manufacturers need to develop a better way to secure the sets, and parents need to be better informed of the dangers of having children around these heavy, unstable devices.

"More aggressive education to warn parents about the risk of injury must be implemented so that more families will take the time to display their televisions safely," researcher Dr. Robert Todd Maxson, an assistant professor of pediatric surgery at UT southwestern and medical director of the pediatric trauma service at Children's Medical Center Dallas, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has more information on preventing injuries at home.

SOURCES: UT Southwestern Medical Center, news release, June 1, 2006

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