High Chairs May Mean Farther Falls

High chair accidents lead to one injury among children every hour in the US

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Since toddlers' high chairs are higher than regular chairs and are often used in kitchen and dining areas where the floors are hard, falls from a high chair are more apt to cause injury. Learning about such falls could help prevent them.

Recently, researchers looked at injuries caused from falls from high chairs and chairs.

These researchers found that most of the injuries were due to falls and most of the accidents were due to climbing.

"Don’t leave a child unattended in a high chair"

The lead author of this study was Rachel M. Kurinsky, BS, from The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA.

Data for this study was collected from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which provides information on injuries due to consumer products and recreational activities. Information on injuries from booster seats, high chairs and chairs occurring from 2003 through 2010 among children ages 3 and under were used in this research study.

NEISS data was reviewed and the details of the accident were put into categories. The categories were mechanism of injury (fall, jump cut, entrapment or other) and landing surface (carpet, tile, wood, other floor, furniture or other object). Data collected by NEISS already contained information on which body area was hurt, diagnosis and whether the child was hospitalized or treated and released.

From 2003 to 2010, 402,479 injuries among children age 3 and younger were attributed to high chairs and chairs. Over 55 percent of these injuries occurred in boys. In 81.7 percent of the cases, the location where the injury occurred was recorded. Of those, 91 percent occurred at home. Only 2.4 percent of the injuries required that the child be admitted to the hospital.

The average age of the children injured from high chair accidents was 16.3 months.

Falls caused most of the injuries at 92.8 percent, cuts and pinches caused 2.6 percent of the injuries, entrapments caused 2 percent, and jumps caused 1 percent of the injuries.

According to the injury records the researchers reviewed, 39.9 percent of the injuries happened after the child was climbing, 25.6 percent happened after standing and 13 percent happened after sitting.

Where there was information about the surface the child hit, 17.5 percent hit tile floors, 13.2 percent hit furniture, 7.3 percent hit wood floors, 4.5 percent hit carpets and 49 percent hit other types of floors.

A closed head injury is trauma in which the brain is injured from a blow to the head or sudden, violent motion. These injuries accounted for 37.3 percent of the injuries.

Children under age 1 were 1.44 times more likely to have closed head injuries than children 1 and older. Children age 1 and over were three times more likely to get cuts and 2.15 times more likely to break a bone compared to children under age 1.

The average age of children involved in a chair injury was 22.7 months. Cuts were seen in 36 percent of these cases, soft tissue injury in 26.9 percent of cases, closed head injury in 20.7 percent and fractures in 12.4 percent. Children age 1 and over were 3.5 times more likes to get a cut from a chair injury than children under age 1.

Children injured in a chair accident were 1.24 times more likely to have a face injury and 2.27 times more likely to have an upper body injury than children injured in a high chair accident. However, injuries to the head and neck were 1.46 times more likely to occur in high chair accidents than chair accidents.

The number of high chair accidents increased from 8,926 in 2003 to 10,930 in 2010. The number of closed head injuries caused by high chair accidents increased from 2,578 in 2003 to 4,789 in 2010. Closed head injuries from chairs increased from 6,183 tin 2003 to 11,930 in 2010.

“Child caregivers should be encouraged to purchase high chairs compliant with ASTM International standards and to properly engage the safety restraint systems," the study team recommended.

These researchers noted some limitations of their study. The data they analyzed did not include any children who did not go to the emergency department for their injuries. It also did not include any deaths that occurred before the child went to the hospital. Because the accident records did not note whether or not the child was buckled in or restrained in their chair, the study could not evaluate the role of safety restraints in the accident rates.

This research study was published in the December issue of Clinical Pediatrics.

Funding for this research was provided by a student research scholarship from the National Medical Student Injury Research Training Program of the Center for Injury Research and Policy and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The authors declared no conflict of interest.

Review Date: 
December 12, 2013
Last Updated:
December 12, 2013