ORLANDO – Injuries related to beds and sofas in children aged under 5 years occur more than twice as frequently than injuries related to stairs, according to new research.
“Findings from our analysis reveal that it is an important source of injury to young children and a leading cause of trauma to infants,” concluded David S. Liu, of Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, who presented the findings at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“The rate of bed- and sofa-related injuries is increasing, which underscores the need for increased prevention efforts, including parental education and improved safety design, to decrease soft furniture injuries among young children,” Mr. Liu and his colleagues wrote.
The researchers used the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to conduct a retrospective analysis of injuries related to sofas and beds from 2007 to 2016.
They found that an estimated 2.3 million children aged under 5 years were treated for injuries related to soft furniture during those years, an average of 230,026 injuries a year, or 115 injuries per 10,000 children. To the surprise of the researchers, injuries related to beds and sofas were the most common types of accidental injury in that age group, occurring 2.5 times more often than stair-related injuries, which occurred at a rate of 47 per 10,000 population.
Boys were slightly more likely to be injured, making up 56% of all the cases. Soft tissue/internal organ injuries were most common, comprising 28% of all injuries, followed by lacerations in 24% of cases, abrasions in 15%, and fractures in 14%.
More than half the children (61%) sustained injuries to the head or face, and 3% were hospitalized for their injuries. Although infants (under 1 year old) only accounted for 28% of children injured, they were twice as likely to be hospitalized than older children.
The researchers also identified increases in injuries over the time period studied. Bed-related injuries increased 17% from 2007 to 2016, and sofa/couch-related injuries increased 17% during that period.
Although the vast majority of children were treated and released, approximately 4% of children were admitted or treated and transferred to another facility. Overall, an estimated 3,361 children died during the 9-year period, translating to a little over 370 children a year.
In a video interview, Mr. Liu discussed the implications of these findings.
“We know how dangerous car accidents and staircases are, and we often recommend car seats and stair gates for those,” Mr. Liu said. “Obviously we can’t put a gate or a barrier on every single sofa, couch, and bed in America, so as clinicians and parents, the best we can do is keep aware of how dangerous these items are. Just because of their soft nature doesn’t mean they’re inherently safer.”
The researchers reported no disclosures and the research received no external funding.