With Christmas just around the corner, it's time to start thinking about what toys to give your kids. Some toys are more dangerous than others. We all know the old adage from "A Christmas Story" about how with a BB gun you'll shoot your eye out. However, there is a less obvious culprit: a scooter. When you're doing your holiday shopping this year, keep this piece of information in mind: the scooter is the number one toy-related cause of injury for children from the past 20 years.
A new research study shows that from 1990 to 2011, a sobering 3.3 million children were admitted to ERs with toy-related injuries. The rate of toy-related injury increased 40 percent in those 20 years. The popularity of the scooter beginning in 2000 accounts for a large amount of that increase, according to researchers. The research study was published December 1 in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.
"The frequency and increasing rate of injuries to children associated with toys, especially those associated with foot-powered scooters, is concerning," said Dr. Gary Smith, the senior author of the study.
While the amount of injuries associated with riding toys increased over the course of the study, the injury rate for other toys remained steady, including toy guns.
The study found that children under the age of 5 were most susceptible to choking-related injuries from small parts in toys. In children aged 5 to 17, however, a whopping 42 percent of ER admittances were caused by injuries from scooters, wagons, and other toys that you ride. These types of injuries were also three times likelier to cause a broken bone than any other type of toy.
Scooters alone caused over 580,000 injuries from 2000 to 2011. That is roughly one scooter-related injury every 11 minutes. Boys are at a higher risk, as are young children.
Officials recommend that any child under the age of 8 who is given a riding toy should be closely watched to avoid injury, and that children play with these toys far away from traffic to avoid collisions.
Smith also reiterated that children must wear helmets while riding any kind of toy, including a scooter.
The Toy Industry Association noted that although injuries are common while riding scooters, it is more about how the scooters are used rather than the scooter itself.
Kate Carr, president of Safe Kids Worldwide, recommended buying a helmet for your child when you buy a scooter, and keeping your child's age and ability in mind.
"We want to see kids be adventuresome. We want to see kids play. But you need to think about the consequences if a toy is not appropriate for them," Carr said.