By Andrew M. Seaman
(Reuters Health) - About 361,00 children were seen in U.S. emergency departments between 1990 and 2010 for injuries sustained while riding in a stroller or carrier, according to a new study.
"It's over 17,000 injuries per year, which is equivalent to about 50 children every day or two injuries every hour," said study author Kristin Roberts, of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Strollers and carriers can include a range of products from portable cribs on wheels to backpack-like devices.
"I use them to transport my children for daily activities but we wanted to see what types of injuries are occurring," Roberts told Reuters Health.
For the new study, the researchers used data on stroller- or carrier-related injuries among children 5 years old or younger recorded in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System between 1990 and 2010.
"It's injuries serious enough to require trips to the emergency department," Roberts said.
The researchers found data on 360,937 children treated in U.S. emergency departments for stroller- or carrier-related injuries during that time period.
While the average annual rate of injuries was high, the researchers note that injury rates did decline during the study period.
For both stroller- and carrier-related emergency department visits, injuries were most likely to occur among male children under 1 year old. Heads and faces were the most likely places to be injured, according to their report in Academic Pediatrics, July 8.
About 40 percent of children in stroller accidents were diagnosed with soft-tissues injuries like bruising when they were brought to the emergency department, followed by traumatic brain injuries and concussions making up about a quarter of stroller injuries.
In carriers, about 48 percent of children were diagnosed with soft-tissue injuries at the emergency department and 35 percent with traumatic brain injury or concussion.
About 7 percent of children in carrier-related accidents were hospitalized, compared to about 2 percent of those in stroller accidents.
"A majority of the hospital stays for both products were for traumatic brain injuries or concussions," Roberts said, adding that the results don't represent all children who may be injured by strollers or carriers.
"We know this is actually an underestimate of stroller and carrier injuries, because it's only the ones that warranted a trip to the emergency department," she said.
Parents can take a few simple precautions to keep their children safe in strollers and carriers, Roberts said.
They include making sure the child is buckled into the device and secure during each use. Also, parents should be aware of anything that might tip or topple over the device, such as putting it on an elevated surface or weighing it down with heavy objects like purses.
"If parents can take a few extra steps to avoid injuries and falls, then parents can hopefully use these product more safely and reduce the likelihood that their children will be injured," said Roberts.