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Calls to ban iconic '70s-style baby walkers after numerous injuries

21 September 2018

"Baby walkers give quick mobility-up to four feet per second-to young children before they are developmentally ready", Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and study co-author, told Fox News.

Alarmingly, 91 per cent of reordered injuries were to the head and neck, while 30 per cent were concussions, closed head injuries and skull fractures. The annual number of baby-walker-related injuries that required emergency medical care plummeted tenfold during the period of the study, from 20,650 in 1990 to 2,001 in 2014.

The last study that looked at baby walkers happened around a decade ago, according to Smith, and they wanted to update the literature on the subject with the hopes of being able to make a recommendation about the future of baby-walkers. "Many families still use baby walkers, despite being aware of their potential dangers", he said.

"Yet, as a pediatric emergency physician, I've seen hundreds of these injuries", he said. "Despite the decrease in injuries over the years, there are still too many serious injuries occurring related to this product". The increased mobility that baby walkers allow can expose children to risky and unsupervised situations, especially when stairs, sharp objects, or hazardous appliances are easily within reach.

"Warning labels and educational campaigns have not been shown to be effective strategies for reducing baby walker-related injuries. Because children in infant walkers can travel at speeds up to 1 m/second, adults have little time to react to unsafe situations", the authors wrote. "Because of this, we support the American Academy of Pediatrics' call for a ban on the manufacture, sale, and importation of infant walkers in the United States". During the four years after the mandatory safety standards were implemented, walker-related injuries decreased by a further 22 percent than the four years before the federal measure.

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Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which collects information from roughly 100 USA hospitals, the study authors concluded that walkers "remain an important and preventable source of injury among young children".

Infant or baby walkers are designed for babies aged approximately five months to 15 months who have not yet developed the skills to walk independently, the authors noted in the study.

Although many parents think a walker will help their baby learn to walk, the AAP says they can actually delay when a child starts to walk on her own.

Pediatricians are calling for an all-out ban on baby walkers after a new study showed they're still a source of serious injury to infants.

"It is a rare event to see such a dramatic drop in injuries - nearly unheard of", Dr. Smith acknowledged.

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"I have commonly heard the words from parents who brought their child to the emergency department after an injury in a baby walker, 'Doctor, I was standing right there, but she moved so fast that I did not have time to stop her.' These are good parents, who were carefully supervising their children and using the baby walker as intended", he said.

Findings of the research have been disclosed in the journal Pediatrics.

He recommends parents not buy a baby walker for their child, and if they have one they should remove the wheels and dispose of it. But Richel said stationary activity centers are preferable and can be good for a child's development.

FMI: You can read the study on Pediatrics' website.

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Calls to ban iconic '70s-style baby walkers after numerous injuries