May 5, 2014 — The journal Academic Pediatrics has published a study linking baby gates to an estimated 1,794 injuries in children every year. The study also suggests that baby gate injuries have tripled in the last two decades.
The study is concerning because baby gates are supposed to improve child safety. They are one of the most popular child-safety devices. However, researchers found that an estimated 37,673 children have been treated in emergency departments for injuries associated with baby gates.
Researchers also found that the incidence of baby gate injuries has increased significantly. Just 3.9 children per 100,000 were injured in 1990. By 2010, about 12.5 children per 100,000 were injured.
Most of the injured children were boys under the age of two. Children under two years old were most often injured by falls down stairs after the baby gate collapsed or when it was left open. Injuries caused by these accidents included soft tissue injuries, sprains, strains, and traumatic brain injuries. The most common types of gate-related injuries were bumps and bruises (33%) and cuts and lacerations (30%). However, over 16% involved traumatic brain injuries.
Older children (aged 2-6 years) were most often injured by contact with the gate. The most common injuries were cuts resulting in open wounds (55.4%) and soft-tissue injuries (24.2%).
The lead researcher recommended using a hardware-mounted gate that is installed in a door frame at the top of the stairs, rather than a pressure-mounted baby gate. Even young children can push through a pressure-mounted gate, especially when they are old enough to stand up. If possible, select a gate that does not have notches that can be used for climbing, and remove the gate when the child is old enough to open it or climb over it.
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