Consumer Products and Traumatic Brain Injuries in Kids

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New Research Links Most TBIs in Kids to Common Consumer Products

Are some common products in your home putting your kids at risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI)? According to a recent report from CNN Health, “traumatic brain injuries among children and teens in the United States are most often associated with everyday consumer products and activities, such as home furnishing and fixtures, or sports.” Based on data from a new study, more than 70% of TBIs in children that require visits to emergency departments are linked to consumer products. The research was published in the journal Brain Injury.

When conducting the study, the researchers analyzed more than four million non-fatal traumatic brain injuries suffered by kids that occurred between the years 2010 and 2013. Nearly 29% of those TBIs in children and adolescents were tied to sports and recreation, while home furnishings and home fixtures were linked to more than 17% of all reported brain injuries. Even construction materials and other home structures were tied to more than 17% of TBIs in kids. Researchers also linked child nursery equipment to nearly 3% of child brain injuries, and toys to more than 2%.

A large number of  TBIs linked to construction materials and home structures were the result of falls. According to Bina Ali, the first author of the study and a research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, “uneven flooring and prefabricated stairs often contribute to falls,” and “slipping, tripping, and falling are very common” causes of TBIs among kids. 

In young children up to the age of four, beds were most often to blame for fall-related injuries. In addition, the researchers found that when car seats and child carriers are used incorrectly, they are the fifth-leading cause of TBIs in kids. As Ali explained, using car seats “inappropriately” frequently leads to child injuries. For example, “a car seat could be placed on a table or countertop where there is a risk of falling and injuring the infant,” Ali says.

 The researchers did not address the severity of TBIs, and they largely only assessed brain injury data related to children who were admitted to emergency departments as a result of their injuries. More research is needed to fully assess the risks that consumer products pose to children and adolescents when it comes to brain trauma.

Understanding Brain Injuries in Kids

The researchers suggest a series of safety tips for parents to prevent TBIs linked to consumer products: 

  • Remove tripping hazards in your household, including area rugs;
  • Improve lighting in and around the home;
  • Avoid taking kids to playgrounds with hard surfaces;
  • Use safety devices in your home, like stair gates and stairway handrails; and
  • Install stairway handrails that do not have sharp edges.

Parents should also know the signs of TBIs in kids so they can immediately seek medical attention. The following are common symptoms of head injuries in children, according to KidsHealth:

  • Frequent crying after a fall;
  • Head or neck pain;
  • Vomiting or dizziness;
  • Sleepiness;
  • Difficulty walking or talking;
  • Unconsciousness;
  • Abnormal breathing;
  • Obvious physical wound;
  • Bleeding (or other fluid) from the nose, ears, or mouth;
  • Unequal-sized pupils;
  • Weakness;
  • Paralysis; and/or
  • Seizure.

If your child suffered a head injury or was involved in an incident caused by a defective consumer product, you should discuss your options with a brain injury lawyer.

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