Researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital found toy-related injuries send a child to the emergency room about every three minutes. This information is crucial as parents and grandparents head out to the stores to buy presents for their little ones.
Toys are important to children's development, as they help improve motor skills and imagination. However, some products are safer than others. Bikes, scooters and other ride-on toys are a particular safety risk for children over the age of five, according to an official press release from the hospital.
Overall toy-related injuries
The researchers discovered 3,278,073 children were treated in U.S. ERs between 1990 and 2011 for injuries related to or caused by a toy. For children younger than three, safety risks were primarily choking-related, and for children between the ages of three and five, the main risk was swallowing or inhaling items. For older children, risks were often related to riding toys.
During the 22-year study period, the annual rate of injuries rose 40 percent, and one of the main reasons for the increase was scooters, the release stated.
Dangers of scooters
Foot-powered scooters and similar ride-on toys became popular in 2000, and from that year to 2011, caused about 580,037 injuries in children. For children and adolescents between the ages of five and 17, scooters, wagons and tricycles were associated with 42 percent of injuries, while they were related to 28 percent of wounds in children younger than five, according to the release.
Injuries related to scooters, wagons and other riding toys also tend to be more serious. Ride-on toys are three times more likely to be associated with broken bones and dislocations.
"The frequency and increasing rate of injuries to children associated with toys, especially those associated with foot-powered scooters, is concerning," said senior author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "This underscores the need for increased efforts to prevent these injuries to children. Important opportunities exist for improvements in toy safety standards, product design, recall effectiveness, and consumer education."
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission continuously provides information for parents and caregivers on toy safety.
The CPSC recommends people be careful when buying toys and follow the label, which will state the appropriate age range for that product. Additionally, people should avoid buying toys with sharp edges or points, cords, strings and small parts that can come off the toy.
For riding toys, parents and caregivers should require children use the proper safety equipment such as helmets, knee and elbow pads. Children on riding toys should also be supervised.