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Toddler Injuries Have Spiked In The Last Decade, Says Study From The AAP

flickr / Philippe Put

This week the American Academy Of Pediatrics released a report that looks at over 2 decades worth of nursery product-related injuries. Since you don’t want anything you registered for landing your kid in the ER, you might want to take note. Using data obtained from the National Electronic Surveillance System, a public database of emergency department records, researchers looked at 48,653 cases of patients under 3 years old between 1991 and 2011. Despite a 33.9 percent decrease between 1991 and 2003, injuries have risen 23.7 percent between 2003 to now. Yeah … ouch, indeed.

So what the hell happened? The study’s authors attribute the decline throughout most of the 90s to increase awareness and prevention efforts with baby walkers. However, the increase is slightly more complicated. Jerri Rose, a physician and expert in pediatric medicine (who was not involved in the study) told NPR that it might not be that injuries have gone up necessarily, and the spike is mostly due to increased knowledge about diagnosing concussions. Seeing that head and neck injuries were the most common, occurring 47.1 percent of the time, this theory checks out.

Overall, 19.5 percent of injuries involved baby carriers, 18.6 percent involved cribs or mattresses, 16.5 percent were associated with strollers, and 16.2 percent had something to do with walkers, jumpers, and/or exercisers. Self-inflicted falls were the cause of 80 percent of these injuries, often at home, and Rose suspects that these injuries almost always come down to your baby’s big head. “Babies have such large heads and so little control of their bodies, so in young children we often see injuries to their head and neck area,” Rose says. “The head is a big target.”

If you could make your kid’s head smaller, your spouse would’ve done that before they arrive. Instead, the authors of the study recommend parents follow the 4 Rs: research the product, check for recalls, register the product, and read the manual. Parents can consult with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission to check for product recalls before buying, and registering it with the manufacturer ensures that if it’s later recalled, you will be alerted.

If you’re still worried, these tips will help you make sure your baby products are safe as well. It’s important to note that nursery products may be what the AAP focused on, but they’re not the only way your kid could get hurt. You still have to worry about everything from your furniture to your own damn hands. At the end of the day, toddlers are like tiny, wobbly humans stuck in a perpetual game of Ring Around The Rosie. They all fall down, but you can handle it. They’ll grow into their heads one day.