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5,000 children fall from windows per year

5,000 children fall from windows per year
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 4:21pm

More than 5,000 U.S. children and teens are injured each year in falls from windows, according to a study that suggests the problem stretches beyond urban high-rises.

The research found many children fall from first- and second-story windows.

"This is more than just a big-city problem," said senior author Dr. Gary Smith of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

"Two-thirds of these injuries occurred among children younger than 5. This is the age group that's mobile, curious and does not recognize the danger of falling from a window," Smith said.

The study, appearing Monday in the journal Pediatrics, is the first nationally representative study of such injuries. Researchers analyzed data from emergency departments from 1990 through 2008. An estimated 98,415 children were hurt during that time.

Fewer than 1 percent of the cases led to deaths, but the researchers said the tally likely underestimated fatalities because not all children who die from their injuries are brought to the hospital.

Summer months, when windows are left open, saw the highest number of injuries. One- and two-story falls made up 94 percent of the cases where the height of the fall was recorded.

Injury rates declined slightly over the 19 years, about 4 percent, almost entirely in the under-5 age group. The average yearly injury rate was about 7 injuries per 100,000 children.

Increased awareness of the danger, improved window construction and the use of window guards - bars that allow windows to open but keep children from falling - could explain the decrease, Smith said.

Window guards cost about $20 to $40 per window. A quick release feature allows escape from a fire or other emergency. Parents also should move furniture away from windows and open windows from the top, if possible.

"We know what works and yet we still have over 5,000 children a year being rushed to emergency departments because of falls from windows. That's 14 kids a day," Smith said.

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