It looks like it may be time to retire a common practice previously thought of by many as a safety measure.
A child who goes down the slide with a grown-up can end up with a broken leg bone, according to research that will be presented tomorrow, September 20, at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition.
There is a risk involved when a child slides down on her own. With the legs out and in front, her foot can get caught on the side or bottom of the slide. But the risks may be lower compared to having an adult behind the child. The added weight and momentum are enough to cause a fracture, explains lead researcher Dr. Charles Jennissen, a clinical professor and pediatric emergency medicine staff physician at the University of Iowa.
For the study, Dr. Jennisen and his team looked at data from children 6 years old and below. They found that toddlers age 12 to 23 months had the highest number of injuries. The most common, 36 percent, were fractures usually involving the lower leg. “In the majority of cases, this type of fractures happens when the child's foot catches the edge or bottom of the slide, then twists and bends backward while sitting on a parent's lap,” said the study’s news release.
Researchers recommend moms and dads to avoid going down the slide with their children. It may, in fact, be doing more harm than good. “Many parents and caregivers go down a slide with a young child on their lap without giving it a second thought,” said Dr. Jennissen. “And in most cases I have seen, the parents had no idea that doing so could possibly give their child such a significant injury. They often say they would never have done it had they known.”
Slides can be scary for small children, and it’s understandable why they would want mom or dad with them when they ride it. To help make sure your child is away from danger at the playground slides, check for these (as advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics):
Check that the slide is not hot. Metal slides sitting under the sun can get very hot -- enough to burn a child's hands and legs. Plastic slides are better, but both should be checked by a parent before being used by a child.
Make sure your child is seated when going down the slide. The sides of open slides should be at least 4 inches high. If they’re not, consider not letting your child get on.
Check the base of the slide. The landing area should be free from toys and rocks. Wait until there are no other children at the base too. The area at the front of the slide should be clear.