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Falls Are Leading Cause of Childhood Injuries, Expert Says

Parents should be particularly careful about windows

THURSDAY, June 4, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Falls are the leading cause of childhood injuries, and most of them occur in the home, a pediatric trauma expert said.

Many people associate falls with playgrounds, but kids can tumble off changing tables. They can also fall out of infant seats, shopping carts and windows, resulting in serious injuries, according to Dr. Christopher Moir, a pediatric surgeon at the Mayo Clinic Children Center in Rochester, Minn. Falling from windows often results in more serious injuries, according to Moir.

"It happens every day. Actually 14 times on average every day a child will be seriously injured from falling out of a window," Moir said. "Kids play. They are active, imaginative and creative and they fall all the time. That's what they do. But parents need to know how essential it is to never lose sight of their child while they are young and defenseless."

About 8,000 children are treated daily in emergency rooms for falls, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls accounted for 35 percent of injuries involving children at Mayo Clinic's Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center in 2014, Moir pointed out.

There are a number of ways parents can protect their children from falls, according to Moir. Here are some tips:

  • Always ensure that children have adult supervision.
  • Make sure children are buckled or strapped into bouncy seats, car seats and carriers.
  • Don't put bouncy seats or car seats on countertops, tables or appliances.
  • Keep one hand on babies when they are on the changing table or couch.
  • Use baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
  • Don't let kids stand in shopping carts.

It's also important for parents to understand that window screens don't prevent children from falling from windows, Moir cautioned.

Screens keep insects out, but they don't keep children in, he said. Be sure that upstairs windows are closed unless they are opened from the top down. Avoid opening windows that children can reach. Never place furniture that children can climb on near windows. Be sure to set clear rules and let children know they are not allowed to play near windows or patio doors. Commercial window guards are also available to protect children from falls.

Children with a serious or life-threatening injury from a fall should receive immediate medical attention. Children who fall but do not appear to be injured should be closely monitored. Children who are not behaving normally should be seen by a doctor right away.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more tips on how to prevent child falls.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, May 21, 2015
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