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Trouble in the Aisles? : Too Many Children Get Hurt in Accidents Involving Shopping Carts, Study Says


CHICAGO — The supermarket can be a dangerous place for children. About 25,000 children a year are injured when they fall or jump from shopping carts or when the carts tip over, researchers said in a study in the November issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The researchers said shopping carts should be banned until they are redesigned for safety. No laws govern shopping-cart design.

The researchers analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for three years ending in 1992.

They estimated that 75,200 shopping-cart related injuries occurred in children younger than 15 who were treated in U.S. emergency rooms. Some 2,000 of those children required hospitalization; none were killed.

"These are not trivial injuries. They can be life-threatening," said lead author Gary A. Smith, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University.

The researchers' recommendations: lower the center of gravity or widen the wheel base to reduce the chance of tipping; fit existing carts with training wheels; and require that children be strapped in.

An executive at the nation's largest manufacturer of shopping carts blamed the accidents on poor supervision.

"Our view is that it doesn't really have anything to do with the design of the cart," said Victor Grimm, vice president and general counsel for UNR Industries Inc. of Chicago. "If shopping carts are going to be out there, these are probably the most stable things you can get."

Melissa Gracias, shopping at a Chicago supermarket with son Andre, 2, said, "I'm pretty attentive, and I think that's the best precaution."

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