(CBS NEWS) -- About one child each hour is brought to the emergency room
due to a high chair-related injury, a new report claims.
The research, which was published in Clinical Pediatrics on
Dec. 9, shows that between 2003 through 2010, U.S. emergency departments
treated more than 9,400 kids for incidents involving a high chair or booster seat.
The number of injuries increased 22 percent over the
READ THE STUDY (PDF)
"Families may not think about the dangers associated
with the use of high chairs," study researcher Dr. Gary Smith, director of
the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital,
said in a press release. "High chairs are typically used in kitchens and
dining areas, so when a child falls from the elevated height of the high chair,
he is often falling head first onto a hard surface such as tile or wood
flooring with considerable force. This can lead to serious injuries."
Closed head injuries (CHI), which can include concussions
and other internal head injuries, were the most commonly seen injury,
reported in 37 percent of cases. Rates of these injuries increased by 90
percent throughout the study period, from 2,558 cases in
2003 to 4,789 cases in 2010. Most children sustained head or neck and
Bumps and bruises (33 percent) and cuts (19 percent) were
the second and third-most reported high chair injuries, respectively.
Ninety-three percent of the injuries were associated with a
fall. The majority of those cases involved a child who was climbing or standing
in the chair, which researchers believed meant the product's safety restraint
system was not being used or was not working properly.
The study also compared high chair injuries with child
injuries linked to regular chairs. More than 40,000 standard
were reported in the same time frame, which equaled about four children
hour. Similar to high chairs, falling and jumping were the most
commonly-associated actions before an injury took place. Kids injured by
incidents were more likely to have broken bones, cuts and bruises than
injured by high chairs.
Smith said that most parents think
that the tray on the high chair will stop the child from falling. He
emphasizes out this item was not meant to be a safety feature.
Instead, the safety straps are the most important component to protect
your child. Chairs that have a
three- or five-point harness with a crotch strap or post are the safest
options. The caregiver should make sure that the straps are working and are
attached to the chair before strapping the child in.
"The number one thing parents can do to prevent
injuries related to high chairs is to use the safety restraint system in the
chair," Smith said. "The vast majority of injuries from these
products are from falls. Buckling your child in every time you use the high
chair can help keep them safe."
The chair itself should also be steady. Products with wide
bases that meet current safety standards are may provide the best protection
from tipping. If the high chair has wheels, parents should make sure they are
locked before putting a baby in.
Caregivers should also check for recalls in order to prevent
potential hazardous incidents.
The researchers added that high chairs should be used during
meal time, and children should be taught that this area is used for eating.
Never allow a child to play in the chair.
The area around the high chair should also be kept clean, so kids
aren't tempted to reach or kick for something outside of their grasp. Common
items that may be lying around including tablecloths, placemats, sharp silverwear, plates, hot foods and liquids.