Kids Ended Up in ER After Shopping Cart Injuries

Shopping cart related injuries treated in emergency rooms occurred most often in younger children

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

(RxWiki News) While shopping carts can be fun for kids to push and ride around in, parents should be mindful that accidents can happen.

A recent study found that on average, more than 60 children were treated everyday in emergency rooms due to shopping cart-related injuries between 1990 and 2011.

The researchers found that most of these injuries occurred in children between the ages of 0 and 4, and that boys were more likely than girls to be injured.

"Keep a close eye on your kids in the grocery store."

This study was led by Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, with the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The research team examined shopping cart-related injuries in children under the age of 15 over the past two decades.

Dr. Smith and colleagues analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) maintained by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission from 1990-2011.

These researchers recorded information on age, gender, body region injured and a short account of what happened. The researchers excluded cases if children were injured by items falling on them while they were in the shopping cart, were injured because of a preexisting condition, were stung by an insect in the cart or were injured by a different kind of cart (e.g., laundry cart).

The children were separated into two age groups: young children (0-4 years old) and older children (5-14 years old). Shopping cart-related injuries were split into the following categories: falling out of the shopping cart, shopping cart tipped over, body part got caught in the shopping cart, struck or run over by a shopping cart, running into or falling over a shopping cart and other.

The body parts or regions that were injured during the falls were split into the following categories: head, upper body (including shoulder, upper arm, elbow, lower arm, wrist, hand and finger), lower body (including upper leg, knee, lower led, ankle, foot and toe), trunk (the upper and lower abdomen) and other.

Injuries were classified as lacerations (e.g., amputations or punctures), soft-tissue injuries (e.g., sprains or bruises), fractures and other injuries (e.g., burns).

The researchers found that a total of 530,494 children under the age of 15 were treated in US hospital emergency departments between 1990 and 2011. This number is equal to 66 children being injured by a shopping cart every day or one child being injured every 22 minutes.

The average annual rate of shopping cart-related injuries was 4.07 injuries per 10,000 children, with males having a higher injury rate than females. Males experienced about 54 percent of shopping cart-related injuries.

These researchers found that young children (ages 0-4) experienced about 85 percent of shopping-cart related injuries.

The most common way children were injured by a shopping cart was falling out of it, with about 70 percent of injuries being due to this, and about 78 percent of injuries involved the head.

While older children, overall, were less likely to experience a shopping cart-related injury, they were more likely to be involved in a shopping cart tipping over, more likely to get a body part caught in the shopping cart and more likely to run into or fall over a shopping cart compared to young children.

The authors of this study noted that because the bulk of injuries occurred in young children between the ages of 0 and 4, this age group should serve as the target population in prevention efforts.

They concluded that prevention efforts should include educating the public on the dangers connected to shopping carts, making store-based changes and shopping cart design changes and developing better national standards for safety.

This study was published on December 17 in Clinical Pediatrics.

The study's authors reported no competing interests.

Review Date: 
December 20, 2013
Last Updated:
December 20, 2013