Public Release: 

Soft furniture doesn't cushion risk of falls by young children

Data shows more than 230,000 children land in the emergency department each year after tumbling off beds and sofas-now the leading cause of injury to patients under 5

American Academy of Pediatrics

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IMAGE: Characteristics of Bed- and Sofa-Related Injuries Among Children <5 Years, United States, 2007-2016 view more 

Credit: Viachaslau Bradko

ORLANDO, Fla. - Most parents know how easily young children can fall down stairs or tumble off tables at home. Soft, padded furniture like beds and sofas may seem like less of an injury threat. But a new research abstract being presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2018 National Conference & Exhibition shows more than 2 million children under age 5 were treated in hospital emergency departments for soft furniture-related injuries between 2007 and 2016.

The study abstract, "Bed and Sofa-Related Injuries to Young Children Treated in US Emergency Departments, 2007-2016," will be presented on Monday, Nov. 5, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

"Parents often leave young children on a bed or sofa, stepping away for a bit and thinking it's not dangerous," said lead researcher and author Viachaslau Bradko, MD. "But our research shows that these types of falls are now the most common source of injury in this age group," he said. In fact, he said, children were 2.5 times more likely to be hurt by falls from beds and sofas than they were from stair-related injuries.

For the study, the first to use a nationally representative sample to study bed and sofa-related injuries, researchers analyzed the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data from 2007 through 2016. They found that an estimated 2.3 million children age 5 and younger were treated for soft furniture-related injuries during that time period, averaging 230,026 injuries per year.

Among other findings:

  • Approximately 62 percent of children had injuries to the head and facial region. Fortunately, severe, life-threatening trauma was rare, but 2.7 percent of patients were hospitalized.

  • Children younger than a year old when they were injured accounted for 28 percent of injuries among the patients, and they were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized than children over age 1.

  • Boys (56 percent of cases) were more likely to be injured than girls.

In addition, bed and sofa-related injuries among children under age 5 increased by more than 16 percent during the study period, said Dr. Bradko, a Post-Doctoral Clinical Research Fellow in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Texas Children's Hospital.

"With falls from beds and sofas hurting such a large and growing number of infants, toddlers and young children, there's a serious need to step up prevention efforts," he said. This includes reminding parents to constantly keep their eyes on young children when they're on elevated surfaces, including soft furniture, for example. In addition, he said, the findings should prompt manufacturers to improve safety design and consider warning labels. For example, furniture manufacturers might advise consumers against allowing young children to be left unattended on beds without properly installed guard rails or allowing children to jump on or off furniture above a certain height.

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David Liu, Baylor College of Medicine fourth-year medical student and an author on the paper, will present an abstract of the study, available below, between 5:10 and 6 p.m. in the convention center's Plaza International Ballroom.

In addition, Mr. Liu will be among highlighted abstract authors available during an informal Media Meet-and-Greet session Saturday, November 3, from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. EST in room W208AB of the Orange County Convention Center (Press Office).

Please note: only the abstract is being presented at the meeting. In some cases, the researcher may have more data available to share with media, or may be preparing a longer article for submission to a journal.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit http://www.aap.org. Reporters can access the meeting program and other relevant meeting information through the AAP meeting website at http://www.aapexperience.org/

Abstract Title: Bed and Sofa-Related Injuries to Young Children Treated in US Emergency Departments, 2007-2016
Viachaslau Bradko
Houston, TX, United States

OBJECTIVE: Young children are often left on bed or sofa by parents with strong belief that it is safe and not dangerous. The objective of this study was to investigate the epidemiologic characteristics and secular trends of bed and sofa-related injuries among children aged <5 years treated in US emergency departments.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis was conducted of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission from 2007 through 2016 by using sample weights to estimate national numbers and rates of bed and sofa-related injuries. Descriptive statistical techniques were employed. Results are presented as counts with corresponding percentages and/or rates. RESULTS: An estimated 2,300,258 children aged <5 years were treated for soft furniture-related injuries from 2007 through 2016, averaging 230,026 injuries per year and 115.2 injuries per 10 000 population annually (Figure 1).

Males (55.8% of cases) were more likely to be injured than females. Soft tissue and lacerations comprised 28.0% and 24.2% of cases respectively (Figure 2a). Approximately three-fifths (61.4%) of children had injuries to the head and facial region, and 2.7% of patients were hospitalized (Figure 2b). Children <1 year of age at the time of injury accounted for 27.7% of injuries among children and were more than 2.1 times more likely to be hospitalized than children >1 year of age. The number and rate of injuries associated with bed and sofa increased by 16.5% and 16.8%, respectively, during observation period (192,583 [95.8 per 10 000] in 2007 to 230,742 [115.1 per 10 000] in 2016). In addition, during it was most common source of injury in this age group, 2.5 times higher than for stair-related injuries (46.8 per 10 000 population). Table 1 illustrates the characteristics of patient population. CONCLUSION: This study is the first to use a nationally representative sample to study bed and sofa-related injuries. Findings from our analysis reveal that it is an important source of injury to young children and leading cause of trauma to infants. The rate of bed and sofa- related injuries is increasing, which underscores the need for increased prevention efforts, including parental education and improved safety design, to decrease soft furniture injuries among young children.

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