Parents are usually concerned about child-proofing their homes, but one household appliance usually escapes much scrutiny: the television. Now, researchers have found that injuries to children related to television sets are on the rise, prompting medical professonals to call for stepped-up prevention efforts.
A study published in the Pediatrics medical journal followed television-related injuries over 22 years, using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.
The researchers counted 380,885 such injuries in the 22 year study period, with an estimated 17,313 injuries yearly. Most victims were under the age of 5, and most were male.
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Although only 2.6 percent of the injuries called for admission to the hospital, researchers found a surprising uptick in TV-related injuries during the study period, equivalent to an overall rate increase of 95.3 percent.
The researchers found a whopping 344.1 percent increase in injuries attributed to televisions falling off furniture and onto a child. (Injuries attributed to children running into the television actually decreased by a dramatic 71.9 percent).
Sixty-three percent of children were injured in the head and neck, writes MedPageToday, followed by injuries to the lower extremities — and head injuries, unsurprisingly, were more likely to result in a hospital visit.
Sometimes television injuries can even be deadly. Recently released research by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission counted 349 fatalities due to television tipover between 2000 and 2011, mostly occurring in children between the age of one month and eight years.
The uptick could be due to a change in TV buying habits among Americans, researchers told the BBC. "We speculate that changes in the location of TV placement in the home may be responsible," they said. "Older TVs may be relegated to less safe locations in the home, such as on dressers or other unsuitable furniture."
"These are occurring primarily to younger children… When (the TVs) start coming toward them, they don't realize the danger," said head study author Dr Gary Smith, president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance, to Reuters of the research.
To help solve the falling TV problem, researchers suggested a combination of education, legislation, and a push to properly secure the electronic devices to the wall, instead of perching them precariously on furniture, wrote Reuters.
"TVs need to be strapped or anchored to the wall. I think that's our biggest problem right now. Many parents are unaware that TVs can be so life threatening if it topples over and falls on top of your child," Smith said to the news agency.