They're the nursery products that are vital to getting our babies from, well, newborns to toddlers. But baby carriers, cribs and even strollers are linked to thousands of infant injuries every year, according to a new report.
Between 1991 and 2011, an estimated 1.4 million children under the age of 3 were treated for nursery-product related injuries in U.S. emergency rooms, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics. That's an average of more than 66,000 injuries per year, according to CNN.
Around 80 percent of the injuries were caused by a child falling, and it seems that cribs and mattresses, strollers, walkers, baby exercisers and baby carriers—including those worn on the body and car seat-style carriers—are at fault, according to the study.
Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System—a database operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that monitors injuries related to consumer products—researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy looked at childhood injuries associated with nursery products in order to understand what steps could be taken to prevent them. This is the first study to use nationally representative data to investigate injuries across a broad range of products, researchers said.
And there were some pretty clear results: More than half of all injuries occurred during the first year of life, and almost half of the injuries were to the head or neck. Just more than one-third of injuries were to babies ages 6-11 months, and more than half were boys. A whopping 88 percent of injuries occurred at home.
The most problematic products were baby carriers at 20 percent, followed by cribs and mattresses at 19 percent, and strollers at 17 percent. Unsurprisingly, study authors have explained that greater efforts are needed to prevent injuries associated with these products.
In fact, the leading children's products being recalled in the U.S. between 2009 and 2012 were nursery products, according to the study. The researchers estimated that as much as 80 percent of recalled children's products have remained in consumer households even after a recall.
As an example, researchers pointed to a decline in injuries between 1991 and 2003. They said injury prevention efforts around baby walkers is the possible reason.
Luckily for some parents, though, one expert claims that this research may not give the most up-to-date representation of injuries involving children and nursery products.
"In the latter part of 2008, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which turned voluntary safety standards for children's products into federal mandatory standards," said Scott Wolfson, a communications director for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. "To look at the effectiveness of these standards, it would take time."
Although Wolfson maintains that the U.S. has some of the strongest safety standards and newer is always safer because of the improved safety standards, Mehan recommends following the 4Rs: Do the research, check for recalls, register the product (so that companies can easily reach you in case of a recall) and read the manual.
The truth is that parents can still do a lot to ensure their child's safety, such as going through a trusted organization like the American Academy of Pediatrics in order to obtain the latest research and recommendations on child safety and product recalls. And ultimately, if you are using secondhand products, it is critical to check for any defects of potential flaws.
If you really want to be careful, only use nursery products (such as cribs) that were made after 2011, when safety standards for cribs were strengthened.