Every six minutes, a child younger than 5 is treated in the ER for a stairs-related injury, new U.S. research shows.
From 1999 to 2008, more than 931,000 children arrived in hospital emergency rooms with such injuries, the study found. And those younger than 1 who are carried on stairs seem especially prone to getting hurt.
There is some good news in the report: The annual injury rate dropped during the course of the research.
"We can be happy that the numbers are going down, but it's still a very common source of injury," said study co-author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
The study appears online and in the April print issue of the journal Pediatrics.
In the 1990s, Smith and his colleagues warned about the hazards of "baby walkers," wheeled walkers that could send babies tumbling down stairs. Manufacturers redesigned the walkers so they'd halt at the top of a stairwell, Smith said.
For the new study, the researchers decided to take a wider look at stairs-related injuries. "We wanted to get some up-to-date information, so we could give information to parents about the hazards and come up with some new strategies," Smith said.
The study authors used government data from about 100 hospitals to estimate the number of emergency room visits that were due to stairs-related injuries.
They found that about three-quarters of the injuries were to the head and neck, and almost 3 percent of the kids injured had to be hospitalized.