Around every 45 minutes a child in the United States ends up in the emergency room with injuries caused by a television, most often due to a poorly secured TV falling on top of a young child, a new study said Monday.
A study published online in the journal Pediatrics found that falling televisions sent nearly 200,000 U.S. children to the emergency room over 20 years and some of the accidents ended fatally. The age group most affected by TV-related injuries was children under 5, the study noted.
"This is increasing at an alarming rate," says the study's lead author, Dr. Gary Smith, a pediatric emergency specialist. "In fact, a child is rushed to a hospital emergency department every 45 minutes in this country for a TV tip-over related injury."
Dr. Smith says it is unclear from the data collected what type of TV sets are involved in the accidents or whether older, heavier models are the most common cause. The study does note that in many cases, the TVs were placed on lightweight furniture or were improperly mounted on the wall.
"We live in a world that is designed by adults, for the convenience of adults," said Smith, the director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "A TV is wonderful entertainment for everyone in the family, but it is a potential source of danger to a young child."
The study analyzed 22 years of national representative data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which is maintained by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The most common injuries children incurred were head and neck wounds, including concussions, according to the study. Almost 36 percent of the injuries were lacerations, while 35 percent were soft tissue injuries.
Dr. Smith advises parents to securely attach all TV's to a wall, "regardless of whether it is a flat-screen or a CRT." He also reminded parents that large furniture items, such as bookcases, should be tethered to the wall with safety straps so that in case young climbs up onto it, they won't be crushed by falling furniture.
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