Canadian researchers expressed the dangers of unbalanced flat-screen televisions among toddlers. Young children can bump into unsteady TV stands or climb onto them. The sheer weight of these home appliances can do much damage to the tiny and fragile bodies or worse, crack their skulls.
"Parents have to be aware that TVs can seriously harm children," said Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael's Hospital and the study's lead author. "But these injuries are highly predictable and preventable."
Cusimano added that toddlers, aged one to three years old, have the highest risk.
Cusimano and co-author Nadine Parker found that toppling TVs at home have become a widespread occurrence in recent years. The United States' Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed a staggering 16,500 TV toppling-related injuries from 2006 to 2008. The numbers increased to 19,200 from 2008 to 2010.
Researchers analyzed a total of 29 studies from seven different countries that involved thousands of children with TV-related neck and head injuries. Findings showed 84 percent of the injuries happened at home with almost 75 percent not seen by adults.
In one of the studies, the TV was placed on top of an aquarium. The unstable TV fell, ultimately killing a child. In a 2005 study conducted by Dr. James Drake, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, 18 children had fractured skulls due to falling TV. The children were between one to 10 years old. They were treated, but some suffered short and long-term neurological consequences that can lead to facial paralysis and hearing loss.
Cusimano expressed that most TVs are placed on high furniture; some may not be designed exclusively for television. Wall-mounted flat-screens can become unstable and fall if placed near a toddler's play area. Some people think that placing TVs on high furniture can lessen the risk of toddlers reaching them; a toppling flat-screen can be just as dangerous.
The research team expressed how simple preventive measures can reduce the risk of home accidents among toddlers. Parents and guardians should create a dedicated play area away from televisions or any home furniture that can fall on the child. A sturdy and safe stand exclusive for televisions should be used. Adults should refrain from placing toys on top of television stands. Wall-mounted televisions can also reduce the risk, ensuring that they are attached properly.
The study authors also urged the industry to design toddler-friendly TV stands. For now, the research team expressed the importance of making sure that home appliances and furniture are childproof.
The researchers published their findings in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics on Sept. 29, 2015.
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