Don’t Use Infant Walkers

Reprinted from the NYTimes  – September 2018  N. Bakalar

More than 230,000 children younger than 15 months were treated in emergency rooms for injuries incurred while using infant walkers from 1990 to 2014.

An analysis published in Pediatrics has found that 6,539 of them had skull fractures, 91 percent of them from falling down stairs. The devices are banned in Canada, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that they be banned in the United States as well.

The number of injuries went down in 1994 with the introduction of stationary activity centers — devices similar to walkers, but without wheels. Injuries declined again in the four years following the adoption of federal mandatory safety standards in 2010. Other factors may have been involved in the decrease as well, including declining infant walker sales, the number of them still in use, and product recalls.

“There are no advantages to using walkers,” said the senior author, Dr. Gary A. Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “They continue to have the potential for serious injury. Parents should be told not to use them.”

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