HealthDay News — Pediatric injuries due to falling televisions (TVs) have increased 95% during the past 22 years in the United States, according to researchers.
The average annual injury rate attributable to TVs was 2.43 per 10,000 children aged younger than 18 years from 1990 to 2011, Gary Smith, MD, of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues reported in Pediatrics.
The greatest increase in these types of injuries occurred among children aged younger than 5 years at 124.4% during the 22 year timespan.
The researchers analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and found that 380,885 children younger than 18 years received treatment in a hospital ED for a TV-related injury from 1990 to 2011. This averaged out to 17,313 children injured per year.
The surveillance report included data on age, gender, injury diagnosis, injured body region, products involved, location of the injury, disposition from the emergency department and circumstances related to the injury.
TVs were categorized as 27 inches and larger or 26 inches and smaller, and injuries were classified based on injury circumstances: TV fall, patient striking TV, injury while moving a TV or other.
Injury codes included laceration, contusion, soft tissue injury, fracture, strain and other, such as shocks, burns, dislocations and dental injuries.
Mean patient age was 4.7 years. Children aged younger than 5 years represented 64.3% of the patients, whereas those aged 5 to 19 years accounted for 24.3% and those aged 11 to 17 years made up 11.4%. The majority of children injured, 60.8%, were boys.
Falling TVs were the most common type of injury, accounting for more than half of all injuries (52.5%), followed by striking a TV (38.1%).
A significant increase was observed in the number of injuries related to a TV falling from the furniture category (344.1%) including dresser, bureau, chest of drawers or armoire. These types of injuries increased from 0.85 per 10,000 children in 1990 to 1.66 per 10,000 children in 2011 (P<0.001).
The researchers called the frequency in which furniture is used to support a TV (almost half the cases in this study “alarming,” noting that “children may pull dresser drawers open to use as stairs to help them reach the TV, potentially pulling both the dresser and TV over on to themselves.”
Injuries from striking a TV decreased 71.9% from 1.53 injuries per 10,000 children in 1990 to 0.43 injures per 10,000 in 2011.
The most common injury site was the head and neck (63.3%), followed by lower extremities (21.5%). Kids younger than 5 years were 36% more likely to experience a head or neck injury and 22% more likely to be involved in a falling TV injury.
Lacerations and soft tissue injuries (36.7% and 35.1% respectively) were the most common types of injuries, though few required hospital admission or 24-hour observation (2.6%).
“More than 17,000 children receive emergency treatment of a TV-related injury in the United States annually, which equals one child every 30 minutes,” the researchers wrote. “The rate of pediatric injuries caused by falling TVs is increasing, which underscores the need for increased prevention efforts.”
Study limitations include inconsistencies in the amount of details in available recorded data, potential biases in descriptive data and missing data on the types of TVs responsible for injuries.