ROCHESTER, Minn. — When people think of kids and trauma, they often think about car accidents. "However, in reality, falls are the leading cause of childhood injury and most of them happen around the home," says Christopher Moir, M.D., pediatric surgeon at Mayo Clinic Children's Center, who has cared for a wide variety of injuries related to falls.
There are approximately 8,000 children treated in emergency rooms for falls every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At Mayo Clinic's Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center, 35 percent of the children cared for in 2014 were the result of a fall.
Falls can happen anywhere but some of the most common mechanisms for kids' falls are from playground equipment, off changing tables, off infant seats placed on high surfaces, from baby walkers, out of shopping carts and out of windows. When children fall out of windows, the injuries that result are more serious than other types of falls.
Dr. Moir offers advice on how to protect children from general falls:
- Parental supervision is essential at all times.
- Always strap infants into bouncy seats, infant car seats and carriers.
- Keep bouncy seats and car seats on the floor not on countertops, tables or laundry appliances.
- Keep one hand on babies when they are on the changing table or couch.
- Place baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
- Do not allow children to stand up in shopping carts.
- Make sure playground equipment is age appropriate and supervise children at play.
This is a high-risk time for children to fall from windows. "It happens every day. Actually 14 times on average every day a child will be seriously injured from falling out of a window," says Dr. Moir.
Small girl on bikeHere are some important reminders as the weather gets nice and windows are opened to let in fresh air in:
- Screens are intended to keep insects out, not children in. Do not rely on them as a protective barrier.
- Keep windows closed on upper floors. If you do open them, open them from top down.
- Only open windows that children can't reach.
- Keep all furniture and anything else children can climb away from windows.
- Set and enforce rules that children do not play near windows or patio doors.
- Commercial window guards are available to help prevent falls.
If a child sustains an injury from a fall, contact a health care provider. If it is serious or life-threatening, seek immediate medical attention. If there are no obvious injuries, Dr. Moir suggests that parents watch the child, and if the child is not acting like himself after a fall, seek medical treatment immediately.
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