Study Finds Snowmobiles Pose Serious Risks for Children

A study in the January issue Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that snowmobiles pose major risks for children. Snowmobile accidents have caused significant multiple trauma injuries in children and adolescents, and a campaign to address this trend is needed, the study says.

According to a report in HealthDay News, the Mayo researchers say that helmet use, reduced speeds and increased regulation of snowmobiles are a few methods that may help decrease injuries in children and teenagers.

The study included 43 children age 18 and younger who were treated at the Mayo Clinic Rochester between February 1992 and December 2001 for snowmobile-related injuries.

Of those studied, 98 percent had orthopedic injuries, 28% had abdominal injuries, 19% had head injuries, 14% had skin lacerations, and seven percent had facial injuries. Overall, 46.5% of the patients had multiple injuries.

Drivers, those who didn’t wear a helmet, and those traveling at 50 miles per hour or more on a snowmobile were the most likely to be injured, the study said.

"Clearly, helmet use should be a universal requirement for operating snowmobiles. Children under 16 should not operate snowmobiles at all, and all should be encouraged to reduce speed. This study reinforces the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, published in 2000," study co-author Dr. Scott Zietlow, a Mayo Clinic trauma surgeon, said in a statement as reported by HealthDay News.

According to the study, the health and financial costs of snowmobile-related crashes, such as long-term disabilities and patients’ follow-up, are at an all-time high.

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