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Profits Over People? Most Children’s Traumatic Brain Injuries Linked to Consumer Products

Paul A. Slager

August 16, 2019 

Consumer products were involved in nearly three out of four nonfatal traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) to U.S. children treated in emergency rooms between 2010 and 2013.

According to a new study published in Brain Injury, a startling 72.2% of TBI-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations among children and adolescents up to 19 years of age are caused by consumer products. Most injuries in infants (71.3%) and children ages 1 to 4 (60.6%) were related to home furnishings and fixtures, such as beds and flooring.

Using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System—All Injury Program, research scientists at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Beltsville, MD, identified 4,091,376 nonfatal pediatric TBIs seen in emergency rooms between 2010 and 2013. Divided by age, there were 380,842 TBIs in infants under a year; 1,085,680 in children ages 1 to 4; 682,826 in kids ages 5 to 9; 834,565 in 10- to 14-year-olds; and 1,107,463 in those ages 15 to 19. These numbers reflect only emergency room visits, not visits to doctors outside of hospitals.

Prevention strategies across pediatric age groups start with awareness, and ultimately should include changing our behaviors. Wherever feasible, manufacturers should learn from this data and modify product designs and surfacing to reduce avoidable brain injuries. At the same time, children and adults supervising them should be aware of how certain products and activities can lead to head injuries and take steps to avoid them. Together, we can reduce pediatric head trauma without radically changing healthy and active childhood activities.

Paul A. Slager
Silver Golub & Teitell LLP