Strollers and carriers are essential to parents with babies and children. They’re used to conveniently and safely transport little ones. However, when used improperly, they can cause serious harm including traumatic brain injuries, a recent study shows.
A study published in Academic Pediatrics, conducted by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH), measured injuries caused by strollers and carriers (both worn and basket-type varieties) in the U.S. between 1990 and 2010.
They found that almost 361,000 children aged 5 years and younger were treated in hospital emergency rooms for stroller- or carrier-related injuries--that's about two children every hour. The patients were more likely to be less than a year old.
Most children were injured by falling from the stroller (67 percent) or carrier (63 percent). It wasn’t uncommon for the product to tip over and cause injuries as well. Plus, for strollers, 9 percent of the injuries happened when the child tripped over the stroller and 5 percent when the child got an arm or leg caught in it.
Most of the cases (39 percent for strollers, and 48 percent for carriers) resulted to soft tissue injuries, such as bumps and bruises. What's worrisome is a quarter of stroller injuries and a third of carrier injuries were concussions or traumatic brain injuries, the study found.
Overall, injuries happened more with children in carriers and the most commonly injured body parts were the head and face.
“While these products are used safely by families every day, when injuries do occur they can be quite serious,” said Kristi Roberts, MS, MPH, study author and research associate in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at NCH. “The majority of injuries we saw were head injuries, which is scary considering the fact that traumatic brain injuries and concussions in young children may have long term consequences on cognitive development.”
“By taking a few simple steps like making sure your child is buckled up every time he is in his stroller or carrier and being aware of things that can cause these products to tip over can help prevent many of these injuries,” Roberts added.
Keep your most precious cargo safe and prevent injuries with these stroller and carrier safety recommendations:
Buckle up. The stroller’s seatbelt and harness should always be used whenever you take your child for a walk in his stroller.
Properly store belongings. Don’t hang bags or other items on the strollers handles. As the study above shows, tipping strollers and carries is a common cause of injuries.
Use the brakes. Use the break whenever you stop the stroller. We’ve all heard frightening stories of strollers rolling away. Make sure your child can’t reach the brake lever as well.
Stay close. Never leave your child unattended in his stroller especially when he’s asleep.
Fold and unfold away from children. Kids can get their fingers caught and pinched while you open and close it. Make sure the stroller is securely locked as well before placing your child in it.
Keep carriers low to the ground. Don’t put them in high places like on top of a table (it happens).
Don’t let a child push a stroller. That goes for whether it’s his stroller or he’s pushing someone else.
When choosing a stroller:
Get a model that fits your child. Strollers and carriers come in different sizes depending on the child’s age, height and weight. Make sure your child is the right size for the stroller you pick. Newborns must be able to almost lie completely flat in their strollers since they still can’t hold their head up.
Check the restraints. The safest design is a 5-point harness, according to KidsHealth. There should be shoulder straps, a strap between the legs, and waist belts that connect together.
Brakes must be easy to use. You must be able to engage the brakes quickly and easily whenever you need them. And, go for a strollers whose brakes lock the wheels themselves and don’t just rely on pressure on the tires, says KidsHealth. These are more safe and reliable.
Go for a stroller with a wide base. They’re less likely to tip over. Check for your stroller’s stability by pressing down lightly on the handles. It should resist from tipping backwards.