U.S. Children Injured by Falling Televisions Has Increased: Study

Monday, 22 Jul 2013 04:13 PM

By Michael Mullins

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More than 200,000 children have been injured by falling televisions in the United States over the past 20 years, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, and that number is on the rise.

In total 380,855 children were injured by a TV set between 1990 and 2011, according to the study.

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Though the majority of these children were not sent to the hospital, the study finds that every 30 minutes a child winds up in an emergency room because of a fallen television set.

Most injuries are head and neck wounds, and most victims are younger than 5. Other injuries the children sustain include cuts, bruises, and concussions.

"We live in a world that is designed by adults, for the convenience of adults," Dr. Gary Smith, senior author of the study, told National Public Radio. "A TV is wonderful entertainment for everyone in the family, but it is a potential source of danger to a young child."

Smith is the director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Cincinnati.

The study's authors reviewed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – a federal database that tracks emergency room visits caused by consumer products, NPR reported.

While more than half the cases involved falling TV sets, 38 percent of children who were reportedly injured hit the TV.

So what caused the injuries to rise in recent years?

According to the study, it could be a combination of where televisions are placed and the fact that families own more televisions now than they did years ago. The type of televisions purchased could also play a role in the increase, as flat screen televisions have become increasingly popular.

"There is a myth that as flat screens were introduced in the marketplace, we would see a decrease in the number of TV-tip over related injuries to young children," Smith said. "This study shows the opposite is true."

Though the data does not specify the type of televisions involved in the accidents, the number of injuries caused by tip-overs doubled over the course of the study.

"Lighter weights coupled with a less bulky design may make flat panels more easily tipped than CRTs (cathode ray tube) and may be contributing to the observed increase in the rate of injuries associated with falling TVs," the study said.

Additionally, the study suggests that as flat screens enter households and are displayed in more prominent areas, older sets are relegated to bureaus, bookcases, and other less stable furniture pieces that are not designed to hold televisions.

To avoid tip-over accidents, television sets should be tethered to a wall, the study suggests.

"Any TV that goes in the home needs to be attached to a wall," Smith said, "regardless of whether it is a flat-screen or a CRT."

Ninety-nine percent of U.S. households have at least one television set, while 55 percent own three or more, according to the study.

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