Despite implementing a voluntary shopping cart safety standard in 2004 the number and rate of concussions/closed head injuries to children have continued to climb in the United States, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by researchers in the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, examined data relating to children younger than 15 years of age who were treated in U.S. emergency departments (EDs) from 1990 through 2011 for an injury associated with a shopping cart.
According to the survey, an estimated 530,494 injured children were documented during the study period, averaging more than 24,000 children annually – which equals 66 children per day or one child every 22 minutes treated in an ED.
The study, recently published in the January print issue of Clinical Pediatrics, found that falls from a shopping cart accounted for the majority of injuries (70.4 percent), followed by running into/falling over the cart, cart tip overs and entrapment of extremities in the cart.
The most commonly injured body region was the head at 78.1 percent. While soft tissue injuries were the most common diagnosis for these head injuries. The annual rate of concussions and closed head injuries increased significantly, more than double, during the study period, increasing from 3,483 injuries in 1990 to 12,333 in 2011. Most of this increase was associated with children ages 0 to 4 years.
“It is important for parents to understand that shopping carts can be a source of serious injury for their children,” explained Dr. Smith, also a professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “However, they can reduce the risk of injury by taking a few simple steps of precaution, such as always using the shopping cart safety belts if their child needs to ride in the cart.”
The survey offered the following tips to help prevent shopping-cart related injuries:
• Whenever possible, choose alternatives to placing your child in a shopping cart.
• Always use the shopping cart safety straps. Be sure your child is snugly secured in the straps and that the child’s legs are placed through the leg openings. If parts of the cart restraint system are missing or are not working, choose another cart.
• Use a cart that has a child seat that is low to the ground, if one is available.
• Make sure your child remains seated.
• Stay with the cart and your child at all times.
• Avoid placing infant carriers on top of shopping carts. If your child is not old enough to sit upright by himself in the shopping cart seat, consider other options such as leaving your child at home with another adult while you are at the store, using in-store child care areas, using a front- or back-pack carrier, or using a stroller.