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Staircase falls causing more brain injuries in young children

When your child takes their first steps it's such a joyful moment, but it makes you wonder if your home is fully child proofed. Every year, more children are falling down stair cases and it's causing brain injuries in these children and doctors feel that parents need to make a stronger effort in protecting their children around staircases.

According to research published in the journal of Pediatrics, between 1999 and 2008, approximately 932,000 children were treated for stair-related injuries. Approximately 3 percent of those children were treated for concussions and hemorrhages in the brain. Most of the injuries resulted in the head and neck area, including bumps, bruises, cuts, scrapes, or a fractured thigh or arm.

In addition, the greatest number of injuries was in patients who were one years old, and more than half were male. Children at this age are exploring and don't have a sense of what is dangerous or what they may need to be careful of. According to Dr. Gary A. Smith, study author and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, "The staggering statistic is that we continue to see a child, on average, every six minutes in this country rushed to a hospital emergency department with a stair-related injury."

Injuries can occur when a child is being carried by a parent or caregiver and they fall down the stairs and other less frequent accidents happen with baby walkers or strollers.

To prevent injuries related to staircase falls, researchers recommend:

  • If it's feasible, install two handrails -- one on each side of the staircase.
  • Use hard-mounted baby gates at the top of stairs and use the pressure-mounted gates at the bottom of the stairs.
  • Keep your stairs clear of debris and toys and make sure that it is easy to see each step.

Bottom line is to keep your children safe around staircases because the injuries could have long lasting effects, including brain injury.

Source: Ozarksfirst.com, "Doctors: Still Too Many Stair-Related Injuries Among Children," Mar. 12, 2012

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