Despite the fact that baby walkers are definitely not as popular these days as they have been in past years, parents are still buying them, and they are still causing an astonishing amount of injuries in infants across the United States. In a new study published in the journal Pediatrics the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has called for a ban of the toys, hoping to reduce the senseless injuries and even deaths that have been caused as a result of their usage.
Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, a pediatrician who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention spoke to NPR about the results of the study. "I view infant walkers as inherently dangerous objects that have no benefit whatsoever and should not be sold in the U.S.," he said.
The study shows that more than a staggering 230 thousand children under 15 months old were treated in emergency rooms across the United States between the years 1990 and 2014 for injuries related to baby walkers. Just over 90% of those injuries involved the head and neck, and 74% of the injuries were the results of babies in walkers falling down stairs.
Of the 4.5% of babies who required hospitalization for their injuries, almost 38% suffered a fractured skull. The study also states that infant walkers were to blame for 8 infant deaths between the years 2004 to 2008. "The majority of infant walker-related injuries occur when the child falls down the stairs in the walker," the study reads.
"However, infant walkers also give young children access to environments and objects that they might not otherwise be able to reach. This can result in proximity injuries from such actions as touching a hot oven door, grabbing sharp objects, or ingesting household poisons."
The infant walkers, unlike exersaucers which keep infants stationary and simply allow them to sit upright and play with toys on the tray in front of them, are designed to allow infants the ability to be mobile and move around a room. They're typically used for children starting at the age of about 5 months until approximately 15 months, or until the child is mobile on their own. Once exersaucers and similar stationary toys were introduced in 1994, walker-related injuries dropped dramatically.
The AAP told PEOPLE that parents should be looking for products that are stationary, not mobile for their infants. “Because the safest baby walker is one without wheels, stationary activity centers should be promoted as a safer alternative to mobile walkers.”
Thanks in part to a federal mandatory safety standard that was implemented in 2010, the amount of injuries caused by infant walkers has also declined. Still, the AAP is calling on a full ban of the products in the US in hopes of prevent. "Despite the decline in injuries, infant walkers remain an important and preventable source of injury among young children, which supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ call for a ban on their manufacture and sale in the United States."
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