Playing with toys is an important way for children to develop, learn and explore; however, a new study has found during 2011 a child was treated in a U.S. ED every three minutes for a toy-related injury.
In the study, researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found an estimated 3,278,073 children were treated in U.S. EDs from 1990 through 2011 for a toy-related injury. The study used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Slightly more than half of the injuries happened among children younger than 5, investigators found.
The study, published online Dec. 1 in Clinical Pediatrics and appearing in print in the February issue, also found the rate of injury rose 39.9% during the 22-year period researchers analyzed. Much of that increase was associated with foot-powered scooters.
A childs job is play, and toys are the tools, Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, the studys senior author and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide, said in a news release. We want children to explore, challenge themselves and develop while using those tools safely.
Children of different ages face different hazards from toys, Smith said. Children younger than 3 are at particular risk of choking on small toys and small parts of toys. During the study period, investigators found more than 109,000 cases of children younger than 5 swallowing or inhaling foreign bodies, the equivalent of almost 14 cases per day.
As children get older, injuries involving riding toys increase. Those toys which include foot-powered scooters, wagons, and tricycles were associated with 42% of injuries to children ages 5 to 17 and 28% of injuries to children younger than 5, the study found. Injuries with ride-on toys were three times more likely to involve a broken bone or a dislocation than other toys. Falls (46%) and collisions (22%) were the most common ways children of all ages were injured in association with any type of toy, findings showed.
Much of the increase in the overall toy injury rate after 1999 is because of foot-powered scooters. From 2000, after the scooters first became popular, through 2011, there were an estimated 580,037 injuries, or about one every 11 minutes, the study found.
The frequency and increasing rate of injuries to children associated with toys, especially those associated with foot-powered scooters, is concerning, Smith, also a pediatrics professor at The Ohio State University, Columbus, said in the release. This underscores the need for increased efforts to prevent these injuries to children. Important opportunities exist for improvements in toy safety standards, product design, recall effectiveness, and consumer education.