Stroller Safety

November 21, 2002

Little kids in their strollers: they're everywhere! You can find them at parks, malls, and grocery stores. Strollers are convenient to use when children can't be carried. Strollers can move very fast, however, so it's not surprising that accidents happen. Dr. Elizabeth Powell and her coworkers at Children's Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University School of Medicine (Chicago, IL) wanted to know how often children are injured in strollers.

Dr. Powell used the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to estimate the number of children in the United States who were treated in emergency rooms for stroller-related injuries. These data indicated that an estimated 64,373 injuries were treated between 1994 and 1998. Most (76%) of the injuries occurred to children who fell from the stroller; 11% of the injuries occurred when the stroller tipped over. Children most often injured their heads (44%) and faces (43%). Although minor cuts and scratches were the most common type of injury, closed head injuries (e.g., concussions) accounted for 22% of the injuries.

Most strollers have safety devices such as seat belts or restraints. However, it is up to parents, grandparents, nannies and babysitters to use these safety devices to keep young kids in their strollers. Perhaps stroller manufacturers could make seat belts easier to use so people would use the restraints regularly. Strollers are here to stay. Let's keep kids rolling safely.

Some grocery store carts may have similar safety problems. Many grocery stores have carts with a small door that unhinges and folds down. I've seen many kids ride in these carts with their backs leaning on these small doors. It is very easy for these doors to open and for children to tumble out of the cart onto the hard floor. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that between 1985 and 1996, an average of 12,800 children five years old and younger were treated in emergency rooms for falls from shopping carts (the type of cart is not indicated in these statistics). Of these injuries, 5,700 of them were to the head. I have also seen many "close calls" when I've been shopping. So, please make sure children ride safely in these carts.

Reference and further information:

Powell, E.C., Jovtis, E. and Tanz, R.R. Incidence and description of stroller-related injuries to children. Pediatrics, 110:5, 2002.

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