New U.S. study highlights crib-related death risks

Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:32pm EST
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CHICAGO (Reuters Life!) - Crib-related accidents send 26 children to U.S. emergency rooms each day and result in more than 110 deaths annually, a new study has found.

The analysis, by researchers in Columbus, Ohio, will be published in the journal Pediatrics. It examined historical data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The researchers found that between 1990 and 2008, some 181,654 children under the age of 2 were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for injuries related to cribs, playpens and bassinets -- the majority as a result of falls from cribs that caused injuries to the head, neck or face.

Only a small fraction of the injuries over the 19-year period -- just 5.5 percent -- were the result of child becoming caught or wedged in the crib's protective bars. But such accidents accounted for the greatest number of fatalities that could not be related to some other cause, such as sudden infant death syndrome.

The vast majority of the children admitted to the ER for crib-related accidents during the study period -- nearly 94 percent -- were treated and released. But an estimated 2,140 died as a result of their injuries.

The researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital and Ohio State University said a continued strengthening and enforcement of crib safety standards would protect more young children from harm because the vast majority of the injuries -- 83 percent in all -- occurred in cribs rather than bassinets or playpens.

But they also said parents can do several things to help protect their children, including:

* Select cribs that meet all current safety standards, do not have a drop side and are not old, broken or modified.

* Avoid cribs with cutouts, decorative corner posts, knobs that stick up more than 1/16th of an inch or slats that are more than 2 3/8 inches apart.

* Visit to make sure the crib has not been recalled.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Jerry Norton)