July 22nd, 2013
05:19 PM ET
Of all the dangers you've imagined your child facing, a falling TV probably didn't make the top of the list. But a new study shows parents may need to pay more attention to their flatscreen safety.
An average of 17,000 children come to the hospital with TV-related injuries each year, according to the study, which published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The researchers looked at emergency room data between 1990 and 2011.
"Although the overall rate of TV-related injuries stayed fairly constant, the rate of injury associated with a falling TV almost doubled during the study period," the study authors concluded.
In many of these cases, the TVs were placed on lightweight furniture or were improperly anchored to the wall, says lead study author Dr. Gary Smith, a pediatric emergency specialist and president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance in Columbus, Ohio.
"Many parents are unaware of the potential danger that a TV presents if it’s not appropriately secured,” he said.
The researchers looked at 22 years of national representative data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which is maintained by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
This includes data from January 1, 1990, to December 31, 2011, regarding children under 18 years of age who were hospitalized in the emergency department.
Some of the factors in the data include the location of the injury, description from the emergency department, and the kind of TV involved. A short narrative of the circumstances of the incident, as well as age and gender of the victim, was recorded as well.
The most common injuries were head and neck wounds, including concussions, according to the study. Almost 36% of the injuries were lacerations, and 35% were soft tissue injuries.
More than 50% of the annual injury cases were caused by a falling TV; 38% were caused by a patient striking a TV.
The age group most affected by TV-related injuries was children under 5.
What you can do
These injuries are preventable with the right precautions, Smith said.
“Parents need to take the proper action with both anchoring the TV and the furniture. There are low-cost, easy to install devices that parents can purchase, and do-it-yourself activities that are not difficult to do,” said Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The study authors recommend that TV anchoring devices be made available when people purchase their TVs. They also recommend establishing anchoring device distribution programs, strengthening standards for TV stability and redesigning TVs to improve stability.
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