Monday, January 20, 2014

Falls from beds injure children

I'm a bit of a worrier, even my granddaughter thinks so. When she has a sleep-over at our home, I worry. The guest bed is about 80cm off the hardwood floor. That's a long drop in my estimation. We push the bed against the wall and then I insist that someone sleep with the 4-year-old, keeping her sandwiched between the wall and a sleeping adult (usually mommy.)

The other night the little girl slept over. She was excited. Sleep-overs are fun. She climbed onto the bed and rolled back and forth in glee. I moved in close to the edge of the bed, warning her that what she was doing was dangerous.The words were hardly out of my mouth when she had rolled too close to the edge of the bed. She was sliding off and could do nothing to stop it. Her face filled with fear -- and then relief. I had reached out and caught her in mid-air.

"Gaga!" You caught me!" This was not the first time I've been in the right place at the right moment to catch the very active little girl. I've been told that I can't always be there. This makes me smile. She won't always need me to be there. She's four. It won't be long until the falls will be, for the most part, out-grown. I'm not putting a six-year-old in a shopping cart seat.

But my relatives seem to be sending me an underlying message: She should fall. It would do her good. She'll  learn a lesson. Kids don't get hurt falling, I am always being assured. Kid are resilient. I'm not convinced.

It didn't take a lot of research to confirm my worst fear: The proportion of kids injured by short falls is small but the extent of the injuries among those children injured is major. Knowing the exact proportion of children injured is impossible. Children who are not harmed in any way are not taken to the hospital and therefore there is no record of these incidents. But among the relatively small number of children taken to emergency, the number of injuries is surprisingly large and the extent of the injuries frighteningly major.

In one study involving 104 children, there were eight skull fractures among those children who fell less than 60cm. When the child fell more than 60cm but less than 120cm, the number of skull fractures jumped to 23. When all factors were accounted for, the researcher concluded:

  • It is common for children to suffer fractures from falls.
  • Significant, but not life-threatening injuries, are common in short falls.
  • Children tumbling from low heights can suffer unexpectedly severe injuries.
  • The greater the height of the fall, the more common it is to suffer a skull fracture.

  • Stairs
  • Beds, especially bunk beds
  • Playground equipment
  • Shopping carts (Store floors are often hard, non-energy-absorbing surfaces)
  • Wooden floors are more dangerous than carpeted floors

One last, sad note. The figures may be skewed by child abuse. Sometime the injuries don't mesh with the details surrounding the incident and the care-givers are suspect. For this reason, I didn't go into too much detail with numbers and links, etc.

Source: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

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