Nicholas Bakalar of the New York Times recently blogged on an issue that I worry about every time I put one of my children in a shopping cart – injury from them falling out or the cart tipping over. After reading this article, I guess I am justified in (some) of my worry.
Mr. Bakalar writes that from 1990 to 2011, an average of 66 children a day wound up in emergency rooms after injuries sustained in and near them. I think that is a staggering number!
Even though voluntary standards for shopping carts were introduced in 2004, the number of injuries has not decreased. In this particular study, researchers assessed children under 15 and made estimates of injuries based on a sample of emergency room visits in 100 hospitals nationwide. Most of the injured were children under 4 who fell out of a cart, and more than 90 percent of their wounds were to the head. Carts tipping over, running into or falling over the cart, and entrapment of extremities accounted for the rest of the damage. Over all ages, about 80 percent of injuries were to the head, 14 percent to the upper extremities, and 6 percent to the lower extremities. In the 22 years covered by the study, about 16,500 children were injured seriously enough to be admitted to a hospital. All of the findings are published online in the December 2013 Clinical Pediatrics.
Increased prevention efforts are needed to address these injuries among children. Efforts should include design changes to shopping cart which would decrease the risk of child injury; changes could include putting the seating area closer to the floor to reduce tip-over risk, or improving the way restraints are installed in the carts. Regardless, please be aware the next time you put your child in a shopping cart at the store.