It’s a big, scary world out there, and as parents, we try to do everything we can to keep our kiddos safe. After all, accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. But according to a new study, the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries in children are hidden in plain sight, and in your home: floors, beds, chairs and stairs all pose a risk.
The study, published in Brain Injury, used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program to examine the link between consumer products and traumatic brain injuries. Researchers found that while the cause of injuries varied by age — TBIs from home furnishings and fixtures, primarily beds, were highest among children aged one to four while children five and up tended to sustain their injuries from sports and/or recreational activities — most were caused by household items.
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The top 10 culprits include:
- ceilings and walls
- soccer ball
Car seats also contributed to TBIs when used improperly. “One interesting finding was that car seats [are] the fifth leading cause of traumatic head injuries in infants,” Bina Ali, a research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Maryland and author of the study, told CNN. However, most car seat injuries occur when the “seats are used outside of the car as baby carriers” and placed on a high surface. And while any sudden trauma can cause a TBI, most are caused by trips and falls.
“Slipping, tripping and falling are very common,” Ali said. “Some falls can cause serious head injuries.”
Researchers suggest parents and caregivers remove tripping hazards, such as area rugs; install home safety devices, such as handrails, bed rails and stair gates; encourage children to use helmets and proper sports safety gear; and avoid hard surface playgrounds. If an injury is sustained, parents should take their child to an area hospital and/or health care provider to diagnose the severity of their injury and provide them with recovery instructions as treatment can vary widely, from ice and rest to stitches, sedation and surgery.