Keeping Tots From Taking Tumbles

Safety gates and rules for young children may keep them from falling from furniture

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

(RxWiki News) To kids, a couch can be a castle, a bed can be a trampoline and a table can be a bridge. To parents, however, furniture can be a serious injury risk to their adventurous kids.

A new study found that using safety gates to keep kids out of hazardous areas and teaching kids not to climb on furniture could lead to fewer dangerous falls.

The authors of this study said parents should increase safety practices in their homes and talk to their kids about climbing on furniture.

Hannah Chow-Johnson, MD, a pediatrician at Loyola University Health System, offered her recommendations to parents about household furniture safety. She said that parents should avoid glass and sharp corners or edges on their furniture. "They can cut and injure children seriously," said Dr. Chow-Johnson, who is also assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

"Be careful with rockers and recliners — stationary furniture is preferable. Otherwise kids can spin off or get fingers caught or crunched," Dr. Chow-Johnson said.

"Bolt down cabinets, shelving and TVs so they can't be pulled over. Make sure curtains and blinds are off the floor," she said.

In their study, Denise Kendrick, DM, of the University of Nottingham in the UK, and team found several factors that could contribute to kids falling and getting hurt at home.

"Not using safety gates anywhere in the home, leaving children on raised surfaces, changing diapers on raised surfaces, putting car or bouncing seats on raised surfaces, climbing or playing on furniture, and not teaching children rules about things they should not climb on in the kitchen were all associated with increased odds of a fall," Dr. Kendrick and colleagues wrote.

According to Dr. Kendrick and team, more than 1 million preschoolers go to the emergency room for falls each year.

These researchers used data on parents who had taken their young children to hospitals — either because of a fall or another health issue. Dr. Kendrick and colleagues studied parents of 672 children who were injured by falls from furniture. They also studied 2,648 control participants who went to the hospital for a reason other than a fall.

The parents completed surveys on home safety, which included questions on safety gates, whether parents left children alone on changing tables, and whether parents had rules about climbing on objects and furniture.

Dr. Kendrick and team found that parents of children in the group who had kids who fell were 65 percent more likely to not use safety gates and 58 percent more likely to not have rules about climbing on kitchen objects than the parents in the control group.

Also, kids in the fall group who were less than 1 year old were more likely to have been left on changing tables or other raised surfaces than the control group.

These researchers concluded that using child safety gates, teaching children safety rules and not leaving them on raised surfaces could prevent some falls.

This study was published Dec. 1 in JAMA Pediatrics.

The National Institutes of Health funded the research. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
December 1, 2014
Last Updated:
December 3, 2014