Published: Tue, September 18, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Infant Walkers Still Injuring Thousands of Babies

Infant Walkers Still Injuring Thousands of Babies

The walkers are created to mobilize babies not yet able to walk on their own, but moving on four wheels sometimes sends them on unsafe paths or tumbling down stairs.

More than 90 percent of incidents involved head and neck injuries, while 74 percent were injured falling down the stairs while using an infant walker.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has called for a ban on baby walkers with wheels.

In 2014, about 2,000 kids were injured due to infant walkers. "Their only error was that they believed the myth that baby walkers are safe to use". There have been tougher safety standards on baby walkers in the US since 2010, which researchers noted did correspond with a decrease in injuries, but thousands of babies are still injured each year.

In 1997, a voluntary safety standard required the base of baby walkers to be wider than a standard 36-inch doorway, or to have a device that automatically engages a brake if one of the wheels drops over the edge of a step, the researchers said. The researchers conclude that the rules probably slowed the number of injuries, but thousands of children are still getting hurt.

"I have commonly heard the words from parents who brought their child to the emergency department after an injury in a baby walker, 'Doctor, I was standing right there, but she moved so fast that I did not have time to stop her, '" senior study author Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told CBS News.

"We support the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics that baby walkers should not be sold or used". Injuries dropped an additional 23 percent over the next four years. Smith has treated babies who landed head-first on concrete after falling down a flight of stairs while strapped into an infant walker.

"Many parents believe baby walkers offer their children entertainment, promote walking and providing a baby with an activity while the parents are busy doing something else", Smith said.

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We have long-standing issues, both of us know these problems. "If anything comes about we will let you know", he said. India is adopting a "wait and watch" approach, he added.

"Although there have been efforts to reduce injuries, which have been successful in reducing some, we're still seeing them", said Ryan, who directs research in pediatric emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

Rose has noticed fewer babies coming into the ER with walker-related injuries, but they're still coming, she said.

Health Canada previously noted there were 1,935 baby walker injuries in babies aged five to 14 months between 1990 and 2002.

"I don't advocate using movable walkers, but if parents can find a safe place for one - a sunken living room or a finished basement - then I don't have a problem with them", he explained.

"Pediatricians have been against infant walkers for many, many years", said Dr. Scott Dattel, of Kansas City Pediatrics. In addition to that, while parents might think walkers can help speed a child's ability to walk, several studies show that baby walkers actually might cause developmental delays.

Despite improvements since standards became mandatory, Smith and his co-authors continue to see roughly 2,000 children a year treated in emergency rooms, often for serious injuries such as skull fractures.

It's not just infant walkers that cause injuries.

Instead of baby walkers, pediatricians advise belly time or using stationary activity centers where babies can be entertained by being rocked or bounced without being mobile.

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