New study results indicate that almost every hour a child is brought to a hospital emergency room with an injury associated with a high chair, and the risk seems to be rising.
From 2003 and 2010, an average of about 9,500 infants and toddlers were brought to emergency rooms with high-chair-related injuries, Reuters Health reports. Injuries increased toward the end of that period, said Dr. Gary Smith, the study’s senior author, and emergency departments were seeing “around 11,000 kids” every year toward the end of the seven-year period.
The most common injuries were so-called “closed head” injuries, such as concussions, with bruises and cuts the next most frequent, according to the study. Nursery furniture, like high chairs, accounts for six of every 100 injuries in children younger than three, according to Reuters Health.
The researchers used data from the National Electronic Surveillance System, a database that estimates the number of U.S. emergency visits from a sample of 100 hospitals with 24-hour emergency rooms. They calculated that there were 402,479 visits to U.S. emergency rooms associated with high chairs between 2003 and 2010, according to Reuters Health. Not every record indicated what the child was doing right before the injury, but where this was noted, two-thirds said the child was climbing or standing in the high chair before the fall.
Smith noted that a high chair elevates the child higher than a typical chair would, and high chairs are often used in dining areas with hard floors, increasing the injury risk from a fall. Dr. Smith, who directs the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, urges parents to protect their children by using the high chair’s restraining system. “The tray won’t keep a child in a chair. The restraints must be used and used correctly,” Smith said, according to Reuters Health.
The researchers learned that more than 3.4 million high chairs had been recalled due to faulty designs since 2008, and Smith thought the increase in injuries may be due, in part, to some recalled chairs still being in use. He also pointed to parents’ natural caution in dealing with falls. While it’s hard to give strict guidance about when to take a child to an emergency room after a fall from a high chair, Smith told Reuters Health if the parent is unsure, “the best thing to do is have the child checked out.”
The study was published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.