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High chairs and infants: injuries and prevention

Infants are forever inquisitive and in motion, and those two traits can spell problems whenever they are crawling, twisting, reaching and otherwise contorting.

In others words, there is a potential for personal injury whenever kids are, well, being kids, with that potential being heightened whenever they are in close proximity with poorly designed products.

One such product that can have outsized adverse consequences for toddlers when poorly constructed is the age-old high chair. It is certainly no secret that most infants are not particularly fond of restraints and will engage in constant activity aimed at trying to free themselves from what they view as a mini-prison.

When they escape from high chairs, that often means a fall, and the consequences from that can obviously be immediate and severe.

Research conducted at the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus focusing on high-chair injuries concludes that, on average, about one child is treated in an emergency room somewhere in the country every hour of every day for a chair-related injury.

And most often the injuries suffered followed falls. Evidence shows that small children injured in falls often suffer head injuries, and that is certainly the case with falls from high chairs. And given the distance from a chair seat to the floor, those injuries can be severe.

Researchers note that concussions and internal head injuries are often diagnosed in infants following high-chair falls.

What's the antidote to children's falls and resulting head injuries?

Unsurprisingly, the answer is not complex. Here's a safety mantra: Parents and caregivers, closely watch your kids. If there is a restraint system in the chair (and there should be), use it -- always.

And note that, if a child is climbing or standing up in a chair, the restraint system is obviously not functioning properly.

The prescription for that shortcoming is obvious: Get a new chair.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Highchair-related injuries jump 22 percent," Allie Bidwell, Dec. 9, 2013

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