Study Examines Stair-Related Injuries Among Children in the United States

Researchers with the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio found more than 93,000 children younger than 5 years of age were treated annually for stair-related injuries in U.S. emergency departments from 1999 to 2008, according to a study recently published in Pediatrics.

According to a Nationwide Children’s Hospital news release, the findings mean that on average a child is taken to an emergency department every 6 minutes for a stair-related injury in the United States.

Gary Smith, MD, DrPH and colleagues performed a retrospective analysis of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission from 1999 to 2008, according to the study abstract. The investigators estimated the national numbers and rates of stair-related injuries through use of sample weights.

They estimated that 931,886 children aged 5 years or younger received treatment for stair-related injuries between 1999 and 2008 and noted an average 46.5 injuries per 10,000 population annually, the authors wrote in the abstract.

The researchers did find, however, that the injury rates are dropping. From 1999 to 2008, the number of injuries per year decreased 11.6% and the stair-related injury rate dropped from 53.0 to 42.4 per 10,000 population.

According to the abstract, the injury breakdown is as follows: soft tissue injuries, 34.6%; injuries to the head and neck, 76.3%; hospitalizations, 2.7%; and children 1 year of age or younger being carried at the time of injury, 24.5%.

The authors noted in the release that while the number of stair-related injuries in this population is declining, it is substantial – and more preventative and educational efforts are needed.

“While we are pleased to see a declining trend in the number of stair-related injuries, stairs continue to be a common source of injury among young children,” Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy and senior author of the study, stated in the release. “Through a combination of educating parents, use of stair gates and modifying building codes to make stairs safer, we can prevent these types of injuries.”


Zielinski AE, Rochette LM, Smith GA. Stair-related injuries to young children treated in U.S. emergency departments, 1999-2008. Pediatrics. 2012. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2314.

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