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Why Sliding With Your Kid on Your Lap Is a Bad Idea

Photograph by Twenty20

Here's a warning from doctors you won't want to let slide: If you're tempted to take kids down slides on your lap because it seems fun and safe, don't. This common practice is a major cause of injuries among young children on the playground.

In a study abstract to be presented today at the Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, researchers found that out of the 352,698 children younger than 6 years of age who were injured on slides in the U.S. from 2002 through 2015, more than a third of them had a fracture, usually involving the lower leg. These injuries are especially high for toddlers (ages 12 to 23 months).

When they looked into why this was happening, experts found that when the child was on a person's lap, an incredibly high rate of injuries (94 percent) involved the lower extremity. In most cases, the fracture happened when the kid's foot caught the edge or bottom of the slide and twisted and bent backwards.

It makes sense when you think about it. Young kids sliding by themselves have relatively low forces generated because of their size and weight. Add an adult or teenager, and the momentum and twisting force gets much higher. If the kid's foot gets caught on the slide, it's now easier to break a bone.

"Many parents and caregivers go down a slide with a young child on their lap without giving it a second thought," Charles Jennissen, lead researcher and clinical professor at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, said in a press release. "And in most cases I have seen, the parents had no idea that doing so could possibly give their child such a significant injury. They often say they would never have done it had they known."

Jennissen said if you really need to have a kid go down the slide on someone's lap, use extreme caution to ensure the child won't catch his or her foot on any of the slide's surfaces.

Other slide rules to remember, according to KidsHealth: Children should slide down feet first and sitting up; always make sure the bottom of the slide is clear before sliding down; and don't slide down in groups.

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