Child High Chair Injuries Are Up Nearly 25 Percent

Parents trust that when they strap their infant or toddler into a high chair that their baby will be secure.
A new study suggests that trust may be misplaced.

It appears that the number of child injuries in Charlotte and across the country resulting from high chair mishaps has increased by nearly a quarter just in the last decade.

The Center for Injury Research and Policy, along with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, concluded that the number of toddlers rushed to hospital emergency rooms for head injuries, neck injuries, limb fractures and lacerations has never been higher. In all, there are an estimated 9,400 children suffering these injuries every year, amounting to an average of one every single hour.

These are children under the age of 3, and the injuries they are incurring are not slight. We’re talking brain damage, paralysis and permanent scarring.

Researchers culled child injury data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which gleans information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. What they found was that between 2003 and 2010, the number of high chair injuries reported by hospital emergency rooms climbed by 22 percent.

Of those, 85 percent were for head and face injuries. All but 2.5 percent of those were deemed to have injuries so severe they had to be admitted to the hospital.

All of this, of course, raises the question of why. It’s not clear exactly why these figures are on the rise. The data that researchers analyzed often did not contain any information as to the exact nature of the circumstances just prior to the incident. Still, researchers were able to note a few patterns.

The first of those was that for whatever reason, the restraints on the chair were not used or not used properly. With the restraints not in place, the children were able to slide or stand around in the chair, which put them at risk for a fall.

Another big problem the study authors noted was the extensive use of faulty chairs. Prior to 2008, the laws governing safety standards for child high chairs were far more lax. Then legislators passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. As a result, safety standards became far more stringent, with the law formally going into effect in 2011.

But a lot of people are still using those older models that have been proven to cause injury.

On top of that, federal regulators have initiated the recall of millions of high chairs just in the past several years because they did not meet the new safety guidelines. However, the return rate on recalled high chairs is ridiculously low – only about 10 to 20 percent.

It’s worth noting that just because a high chair has been recalled does not mean the manufacturer won’t be held liable if a defect is found to have caused an injury to a child. Presumably, parents will do anything to keep their children safe. The fact that so many of these older, unsafe chairs are still in use speaks volumes about the industry’s failure to spread the word about the recalls.

Although it is illegal to sell recalled items, many parents just don’t know that the chair they are using is dangerous.

You may remember last year when the wildly popular Bumbo baby seats were recalled – some 4 million of them – following 21 reports of infant skull fractures. The company did issue a free repair kit that included a restraint belt. However, a fair number of second-hand stores that continue to sell them without the restraints, and there are many more parents who receive hand-me-downs from unwitting friends and relatives.

If your child has suffered injury, contact our North Carolina personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Number of high chair injuries jumps 22% over past decade: study, Dec. 9, 2013, By Tracy Miller, New York Daily News

More Blog Entries:
Keeping Child Travelers Safe — “Let’s Go NC!”, Sept. 4, 2013, Charlotte Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

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