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Toppling TVs cause head, neck injuries in children

Researchers said the increase is due to sets placed improperly on furniture and not anchored to a wall or attached to a stable base.

By
Stephen Feller
Children can easily cause a TV to fall on them by bumping furniture or the set itself, causing themselves potentially serious injury. Photo by Frantisek Czanner/Shutterstock
Children can easily cause a TV to fall on them by bumping furniture or the set itself, causing themselves potentially serious injury. Photo by Frantisek Czanner/Shutterstock

TORONTO, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- As televisions have become larger, thinner, and somewhat less steady, the number of children injured by sets falling on them has increased because sets are not usually properly fixed to walls or stable bases, according to a new study.

While a falling TV would likely injure anybody, many injuries are to children between 1 and 3 years old because they either bump into furniture or climb it to retrieve a toy or remote.

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"Parents have to be aware that TVs can seriously harm children," said Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael's Hospital, in a press release. "But these injuries are highly predictable and preventable."

The study, published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, included 29 studies from 7 countries, showing that 84 percent of TV toppling injuries happened at home and three-quarters of them are not witnessed by adult caregivers. Toddlers were the most injured age group, and most suffered significant injuries to the head or neck.

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Researchers reported that fatalities varied widely in the studies, but that 96 percent of them were due to brain injuries.

Based on data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, there were 42,122 TV-toppling injuries in the United States between 1998 and 2007 -- 44 percent of which were head injuries.

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"Those of us involved in managing child brain and spine injuries have no doubt seen a rise in TV-toppling injuries," wrote Dr. Truc Le and Dr. John Wellons, both of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in an editorial published with the study in Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics. "It has spurred many of us to wonder if there was some way to effect change, through better base design, material engineering, and/or education."

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Considering that 96.7 percent of American households have televisions in them, researchers suggest several things that can be done to reduce the risk of their children being crushed by a falling TV: Avoid placing toys or remotes on top of the set; Place TVs away from the edge of stands or furniture; Regulations for TV wall anchors and support furniture; and Education of parents and caretakers about the dangers of toppling TVs and how to reduce the risk of them harming small children.

"Too many children are sustaining head trauma from an easily preventable TV toppling event," Cusimano said. "We hope clinicians take a more active role as advocates for prevention of these injuries, legislators become more open to implementing changes to current regulations, and caregivers employ the suggested prevention strategies at home."

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