Cribs and Playpens Injure Thousands Every Year, Study Says

<"">Crib and playpen accidents hurt nearly 10,000 children a year, according to a new study from Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Even worse, the study found that more than 100 deaths related to cribs and playpens were seen in U.S. emergency departments each year.

The study found the majority of the injuries involved cribs (83 percent) and the most common injury diagnosis was soft-tissue injury (34 percent), followed by concussion or head injury (21 percent). The head or neck was the most frequently injured body region (40 percent), followed by the face (28 percent). Two-thirds of the injuries were the result of a fall, and the percentage of injuries attributed to falls increased with age.

Over the 19-year period examined by the study, 181,654 infants were injured. Most children were not hospitalized. The data also show there were 2,140 deaths, but that doesn’t include crib-related deaths in children who didn’t receive ER treatment.

“Despite the attention given to crib safety over the past two decades, the number of injuries and deaths associated with these products remains unacceptably high,” said Gary Smith, MD, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy. “Unlike other child products that require adult supervision for their safe use, cribs, playpens and bassinets must be held to a higher standard because we expect parents to leave their child unattended in them and walk away with peace of mind.”

In recent years, organizations such as the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics have amplified their efforts to increase crib safety. Late last year, the CPSC voted unanimously voted to adopt tough new crib safety standards would stop the sale, re-sale, manufacture, and distribution of drop-side cribs and would also prohibit drop-side cribs at motels, hotels and childcare facilities. The new crib safety standards go into effect in June, though hotels and child-care centers will have two years to replace their cribs.

The CPSC’s new standards also will require mattress supports to be stronger, crib hardware to be sturdier, and more rigorous safety testing of baby beds.

This is the first nationally representative study to examine injuries to young children associated with cribs, playpens and bassinets that were treated in United States emergency departments. Data for the study were collected from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which is operated by the CPSC.

The study will appear in the March 2011 print issue of Pediatrics.

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