Falling Down the Stairs Is Still a Top Cause Of Injury To Young Children

Sep 30, 2014 - Articles - by Dodson & Hooks, APLC

The news is full of reports of the dangers to children-everything from accidental poisonings to abductions. But children face dangers everyday that are much more commonplace, like the simple act of falling down stairs.

A recent study found that, on average, one child age 4 or younger falls down the stairs somewhere in the U.S. every six minutes. Fully three-quarters of all the reported injuries were to the head and neck, which could be very dangerous for future brain development.

All told, nearly 932,000 children went to the emergency room over the ten-year period studied. And that’s just those children that went to the E.R.-the actual number of injured children is undoubtedly much larger.

What causes most of these falls by children? The study, published in the well-regarded journal Pediatrics, found no single culprit. The study did find that among infants of one year or less, about one-quarter of the injuries were sustained when a parent or other caretaker was carrying the child.

Interestingly, unsafe play on the stairs, such as jumping or trying to ride a toy down the stairs accounted for just 2.6 percent of all injuries. Another 2.7 percent came from children who were hurt while using baby walkers, which doctors and childhood development experts agree are actually bad for children, both for the danger of falls down stairs and for delays in brain and motor skill development. Overall, 87.6 percent of all children fell without any mention of another object (such as a toy) or particular action.

Fortunately, there is some good news in the study. Over the ten-year period studied (1999-2008), the number of injuries fell each year, ultimately declining by 11.6 percent. Much of that credit goes to the decrease in use of baby walkers, which used to injure around 25,000 children each year, but now only hurt about 1,300 each year. The dangers of baby walkers have become better known in that time, and while they were banned in Canada in 2004, they are still sold in the U.S.

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