Courtney King, of West Des Moines, ESL teacher at Jensen Elementary School, left, hi-fives Jaylon Gulling, 7, of Urbandale, during the national Bike To School Day at Jensen Elementary School on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (Photo: HOLLY MCQUEEN, THE DES MOINES REGISTER)
Nearly three-quarters of non-fatal traumatic brain injuries in children are linked to everyday household items, according to a study released this week.
Seventy-two percent of such brain injuries in young people up to age 19 “were attributable to consumer products that are regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,” according to the Taylor & Francis Group, which published the study Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Brain Injury.
Uneven floors accounted for one in 10 cases of emergency department-treated traumatic brain injuries, Bina Ali, a researcher who led the study for the nonprofit Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, told USA TODAY.
Beds were the top source of non-fatal brain injuries in infants. Older children’s brain injuries came primarily from contact sports.
Beds were linked to head injuries through age 10. And bunk beds proved riskier, Ali said, because of how easy it is for children to fall from the top bunk.
“In most cases, infants and children are safe in bed and when playing sports outside, but our study highlights some of the risks,” Ali said in a statement.
As children grow up, the items linked to injuries tended to be found outside the home.
American football was the leading cause of traumatic brain injury for those ages 10 to 19, the publisher said.
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Football, bicycles and basketball were most closely linked with brain injuries among sports and sporting goods, while beds, chairs and tables were most linked among home furnishings.
And the most potentially dangerous fixtures? Floors, of course, followed by stairs.
Parents can reduce the risks certain items pose to children by using stair gates and guard rails, removing trip hazards such as rugs, and using helmets. Better lighting inside the home can help, too.
The vast majority of traumatic brain injuries (93.7%) were accidental. A small percentage stemmed from assault.
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Ali, the lead researcher, said results were consistent with past studies on traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.
“Our findings address an important gap in the literature by identifying leading products and activities that contribute to TBIs in children and adolescents at different developmental age groups,” she said.
The study did have limitations: The team wasn’t able to examine socioeconomic status or locations of all incidents, and they were able to evaluate only the injuries admitted through hospital emergency departments.
Data came from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.
Follow Morgan Hines on Twitter: @MorganEmHines.
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