Take steps to make stairs safer for kids
Published: March 12, 2012 05:33PM
Updated: March 12, 2012 12:29PM

When little ones are around, stair safety can never be minimized, even when children are in the arms of an adult, a new national study suggests.

Although the number of stair-related injuries to young children declined 11.6 percent between 1999 and 2008, about 93,000 children younger than 5 were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments each year, finds an analysis reported in the journal Pediatrics. That equates to a child younger than 5 being rushed to the hospital once every six minutes for a stair-related injury, says the study.

Among children under the age of 1, 25 percent of the injuries occurred while the child was being carried on the stairs by an adult. Those children were more than three times more likely to be hospitalized.

Researchers believe the total number of stair-related injuries is actually higher, because in many instances, treatment is provided by urgent care centers or private doctors or not at all.

When that happens, it is not included in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database, which is operated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and was used for the study.

“We know it’s an underestimation because we’re not catching all of the cases,” says the study’s senior author, Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

This very common source of injuries “demands much more attention than it’s given,” he says.