Every hour, a child is rushed to the emergency room for a high chair-related injury.
That’s according to a new report published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, which also found that the number of high chair injuries has spiked by 22 percent in the last decade.
Researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Center for Injury Research Policy analyzed data provided for years 2003 through 2010, finding that during that time nearly 9,500 children suffered an injury that involved a high chair or booster seat.
While the information is not broken down by state, Birmingham injury lawyers believe the number of instances here are on par with the rest of the country.
Sadly, the vast majority of these injuries are quite serious – which makes sense when you consider where they occur and the age of those involved. Young children, typically under the age of 3, are typically set up in a high chair, which stands a substantial height from the ground, in kitchen or dining areas. Most of these areas are floored with a hard wood or tile surface. So when the child makes impact, serious injury often results.
Researchers say that closed head injuries, which include concussions and other types of internal brain injuries, were the most common type of injury noted. These injuries accounted for nearly 40 percent of all injuries that children sustained. What’s more, the rate of this type of injury shot up by 90 percent through the course of the study period. In 2003 there were about 2,560 closed head injuries. By 2010, there were about 4,800 closed head injuries.
The second most-common type of injuries were bumps and bruises, which accounted for 33 percent of all injuries, followed by cuts, which accounted for 19 percent.
As far as why there has been such a sharp increase over the last several years, researchers aren’t sure, but they do offer up several theories.
The first is that caregivers are not properly strapping the child into the restraint system as it is designed. There appears to be a mistaken belief that the tray affixed in front of the child is part of the safety design. It is not. When the restraints aren’t properly used, the child can slide, wiggle or stand up in the chair.
But the other problem may be the use of chairs with faulty designs that don’t meet the current safety standards.
In 2011, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration bolstered the minimum safety requirements for high chairs with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. A lot of the chairs manufactured prior to that don’t meet the current guidelines. What’s more, millions of high chair models have been recalled in recent years, but researchers say the return rate on these products is extremely low. Only about one or two out of every 10 recalled chairs is returned.
Many of these chairs may be getting used not only in private homes, but in restaurants, day care centers and other facilities that have a duty to protect their young patrons from injury. Such injuries may be grounds for a premises liability lawsuit, while use of a recalled high chair resulting in injury may be grounds for a product liability case.
One child injured by high chairs every hour: Study, Dec. 9, 2013, By Michelle Castillo, CBS News