Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thousands of US Kids Injured Each Year in Window Falls

From Reuters Health Information By Frederik Joelving NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Aug 22 - Every year in the U.S., more than 5,100 kids go to emergency rooms after falling from windows, and a quarter of them need to be admitted, according to the first nationwide study of the problem. Over 19 years, researchers found, the rate has dropped only slightly. "It really is nothing to take comfort in," said Dr. Gary Smith, who heads the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "We continue to see this problem, especially in younger kids, despite the fact that we know how to prevent it," added Dr. Smith, who led the new work. Between 1990 and 2008, an estimated 98,415 kids under 18 were treated at hospitals for injuries they had sustained in a fall from a window. That's about 7.3 injuries per 100,000 children, Dr. Smith and his colleagues reported in a paper scheduled for publication online today in Pediatrics. Toddlers accounted for two-thirds of all cases. According to Dr. Smith, that's because they're curious, don't understand danger, and have a high center of gravity. "As they lean over, their high center of gravity will make them topple," he said. "They almost invariably land head-first." Nearly half the children had damages to their heads or faces, but only two in 1,000 cases were fatal. Most of the falls happened from the second floor. "We need to look beyond the major cities," Dr. Smith said. "Most children don't live in high-rise apartments, they live in homes." The way to prevent falls, he added, is to ensure that kids don't have access to a window, for instance by removing furniture they can climb to get there. Another good idea is to install window guards or stops, which some cities have already mandated. In New York, for instance, the Health Code requires apartment buildings to install guards on all windows in households with kids under 11. "Parents need to remember that window screens simply won't be enough," said Dr. Smith. The findings are based on data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Tips and statistics from the study are available at SOURCE: Pediatrics 2011.

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