News: Furniture tip-overs cause head injuries among children

Young children, including those who have disabilities, have at least two characteristics that can result in serious injuries. First, kids are curious; they'll exercise their developing mobility skills to explore. Second, they may not (ahem) understand some fundamentals of physics; for example, they may not have enough experience to realize that pulling oneself up by grabbing onto the cloth covering a table is likely to pull the cloth, and anything on it, off the table.

What if a great, big television is sitting on that cloth? Uh-oh! If there is, for example, a television on a table, it could be tipped over onto a child and cause severe head trauma. Head trauma is one of the leading causes of injury for young children.

  • Rutkowski et al. (2011) reported that in the 10 years from 1999 to 2009, the hospital where they worked in Pittsburgh (PA, US) had records for 52 children who had been injured, most often in the head, by falling televisions. One child died.

  • Cakir et al. (2018) reported that the records of a single hospital in Turkey showed that 34 children had serious head injuries during a 17-year period.

  • Magit et al. (2020) reported that most skull injuries among young childre were from falls, including falling furniture, and that there was a spike in toddlers suffering head injuries during the period 2007-2011, but it has declined.

These are just a few examples of the evidence about the problem of "tip-over" injuries. See the references for additional examples.

And understand that these events are problems for industry, as well. Companies have to recall products such as chests and shelving because of tip-over problems. Here's a list of recalls related to tip-over problems. Are some items you own on this list?

Fortunately, the US Congress is actually deliberating whether to do something about this risk. The House of Representatives may soon vote on the STURDY Act. This shouldn't be a republicans-v-democrats debate. It's everyone's children who are at risk.

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References

Cakir, M., Calikoglu, C., & Ozpolat, O. (2018). Severe craniocerebral traumas from television-tip-over in children. Eurasian Journal of Emergency Medicine, 17(3), 129-132. http://cms.galenos.com.tr/Uploads/Article_20181/EAJEM-17-129-En.pdf

Cusimano, M. D., & Parker, N. (2016). Toppled television sets and head injuries in the pediatric population: a framework for prevention. Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, 17(1), 3-12.

Gokhan, S., Kose, O., Ozhasenekler, A., Orak, M., Ustundag, M., & Guloglu, C. (2010). Mortality and morbidity in children caused by falling televisions: a retrospective analysis of 71 cases. International Journal of Emergency Medicine, 3(4), 305-308.

Magit, A., Stramiello, J. A., Good, R., & Nation, J. (2020). Pediatric basilar skull fracture mechanisms and trends from 2007 to 2018. Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, http://doi.org/10.1177/0194599820960727.

Rutkoski, J. D., Sippey, M., & Gaines, B. A. (2011). Traumatic television tip-overs in the pediatric patient population. Journal of Surgical Research, 166(2), 199-204. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2010.05.051

Suresh, N., Harini, G., Radhika, R., & Chidambaram, B. (2010). Head injuries in children resulting from the fall of television. The Indian Journal of Pediatrics, 77(4), 459-460.