New study reinforces need for vigilance about stroller, baby carrier safety

StrollerSafety-200x200Whoa, mom and dad and grandma and grandpa: Take it easy with the toddler in that stroller. Accidents in strollers and baby carriers send four dozen youngsters a day to emergency rooms for treatment, including for brain injury or concussion, new research has found.

Researchers looked at data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, finding more than 360,000 kids younger than five suffered stroller- or baby carrier-related injuries sufficient to send them to ERs. Most were boys younger than one; most suffered injuries to the face or head. More of them had soft-tissue injuries, though about a quarter of them had concussions.

As one of the lead researchers told National Public Radio: “We know that traumatic brain injuries can lead to long-term consequences on cognitive development. So we really want to make sure these injures are avoided.”

As the New York Times reported, grown-ups  can take added steps to increase toddlers’ safety by ensuring they’re securely buckled in, and that they really fit and are age-appropriate for a given stroller or carrier. The devices also should not over-loaded with, for example, bags filled with groceries or toys or tots’ gear.

Some key caveats about this study: It was retrospective (covering 1990-2010), and, researchers saw a decrease over time in injuries tied to strollers and baby carriers. They said that doctors’ increasing awareness of the harms and risks of head trauma may have increased reporting of product safety concerns, though this research focused only on incidents severe enough to lead to ER care.

Further, federal officials stepped in, in 2015, after the study period, to impose more stringent safety standards on the makers of strollers and baby carriers.

Although news reports emphasized this regulatory intervention, let’s be clear:  Manufacturers and lawmakers more often have responded not to apparent safety issues in products but only to tragedy and the force of litigation in the civil justice system. I’ve written about this before, and I’ve spoken out on how some of the stroller makers wrongly have sought to keep confidential cases involving their products, preventing consumers from knowing their potential dangers.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission notes that its more rigorous regulations on strollers and baby carriers were part of the Danny Keysar Child Protection Act. That’s legislation that sadly honors the dedication to product safety by the parents of a 16-month-old fatally strangled in a licensed day care facility by a model of a travel crib that had been recalled.

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