Despite becoming safer, infant walkers should be banned, researchers conclude
Columbus, OH – Although safety standards for infant walkers have helped decrease injuries among young children who use them, the products are still “an important and preventable source of injury” and should be banned, according to researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Reviewing data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, the researchers found that 230,676 children younger than 15 months old were treated for infant walker-related injuries in U.S. emergency rooms from 1990 to 2014.
The number of injuries, however, dropped to about 2,000 in 2014 from around 25,000 in 1991. The researchers attribute this to fewer falls down stairs – a decrease of 91 percent from 1990 to 2003.
In 1997, an ASTM International voluntary safety standard was adopted that required walkers to be wider than standard doorways or to have safeguards causing them to stop if at least one wheel drops off the riding surface.
In 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued more stringent standards for preventing stairway falls, along with those for walker designs and a parking brake test. According to the study, an additional 23 percent decrease in injuries was seen in the four years following the adoption of those requirements.
Dr. Gary Smith, senior study author and CIRP director, notes that walkers give “quick mobility (up to 4 feet per second)” to younger children before they are developmentally ready.
“Despite the decrease in injuries over the years, there are still too many serious injuries occurring related to this product,” Smith said in a Sept. 17 press release. “Because of this, we support the American Academy of Pediatrics’ call for a ban on the manufacture, sale and importation of infant walkers in the United States.”
The study was published online Sept. 17 in the journal Pediatrics.