Strollers don't look dangerous, but according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, they were responsible for more than 64,000 injuries requiring emergency room treatment over a five-year period. In 75% of those injuries, a new study has found, the child fell from the stroller. Although most injuries were minor, about 2% of children were hospitalized.
Many of the injuries could have been prevented with proper use of restraints to hold the children in place, says Elizabeth C. Powell, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago and the lead author of the study. More than half of the injuries she and her colleagues at Northwestern University reviewed occurred in children younger than age 1. Most involved injuries to the head and face.
Although manufacturers voluntarily include safety restraints on products sold in the United States, the number of falls indicates that either the waist wraps and/or shoulder harnesses were used improperly or not at all.
The data, which included accidents between 1994 and 1998, didn't specify how the falls happened, says Powell. But, she adds, if you strap a child in, they're less likely to fall from the stroller. Being a mother of two, she says she's seen for herself how straps can disappear when a stroller is folded and be difficult to find when it's unfolded. Improving stroller designs so straps are readily available could lower the injury rate, she says. Even better would be passive restraints that can't be ignored.
Although injuries from stroller tip-overs were far less frequent, Powell says heavy objects should not be hung from the hook-like handles that are on some strollers.
Pediatrics, November, Volume 110 (5): 792-796