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Shopping Cart Injuries: 66 Children Hurt Every Day

A new study reveals that shopping carts and children can be a dangerous combination. I’m not surprised at the amount of injuries researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus,...

A new study reveals that shopping carts and children can be a dangerous combination. I’m not surprised at the amount of injuries researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio found. 

The study notes that, in the United States alone, 66 children a day are hurt because of falls and spills from being in a shopping cart. That’s one child injured badly enough every 22 minutes to go to the emergency room, or more than 24, 000 children a year.

According to a new analysis of data from 1990 to 2011 by Dr. Gary Smith, director of Nationwide’s Center for Injury Research and Policy, the annual number of concussions, linked to shopping carts in children less than 15 years old, has risen nearly 90 percent since voluntary shopping cart safety standards took effect in 2004

“This is a setup for a major injury,” Smith said. “The major group we are concerned about are children under 5.” His study is published in the January issue of the journal Clinical Pediatrics. 

Newborns and children under 4 years old account for nearly 85 percent of the injuries. More than 70 percent of the harm was caused by falls out of shopping carts, followed by running into a cart or carts tipping over.

It only takes a moment for a parent to look away for a shopping cart accident to happen, Smith said. A wiggly baby in an infant seat or a toddler reaching for a bright box of cereal can easily cause a fall that results in serious injury. Children’s center of gravity is high, their heads are heavy and they don’t have enough arm strength to break a fall, Smith explained.

In many other countries, shopping cart stability standards help prevent accidents, but the U.S. lacks those standards, Smith says.

The reason a high a number of falls and spills doesn’t surprise me is because I see how easily it can happen every time I shop for groceries.

For example: During a recent trip for groceries I saw a baby in a carrier that was placed (but not buckled) in the upper seating area of a shopping cart. A rambunctious child of around 5 years old was pushing the cart into a display loaded with cold and cough syrup medicines. In a pleasant but firm voice, I told him to stop. The mother was at the other end of the aisle looking at products.

Most of the potential disasters I see involve a toddler that is not securely buckled and is trying to either stand up in or get out of the cart. Parents are either distracted or have left the child “just for a second” to unload their cart or grab another item.

If your store provides carts that are low to the ground, like the toy cars, those are a safer option when taking your child with you shopping. If your store doesn’t, ask the manager to start providing those types of carts.

If you must use a standard shopping cart, make sure that your child is secured and that you never leave his or her side. It only takes a second for a child to lose their balance or a baby carrier to fall to the ground. It's a long fall and a very unforgiving surface they'll land on. 

Source: JoNel Aleccia, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/shopping-cart-danger-66-kids-hurt-day-study-finds-2D11968164

 

 

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About Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award winning pediatrician and medical editor for www.kidsdr.com.  She is a native of Washington, D.C. who travelled south to attend the University of Texas at Austin and never left.Read More

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