Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated a 1999 recommendation concerning trampolines, now warning children to stay away from them at home and at playgrounds. Nearly 100,000 emergency room visits can be attributed each year to trampoline-related injuries, the group said, and new “safety features” on many trampolines can give families a false sense of security. Reuters has more:
“As best we can tell, the addition of safety nets and padding has actually not changed the injuries we have seen,” said Dr. Susannah Briskin, a sports medicine specialist who helped draft the new statement.
It’s estimated that the number of trampoline injuries nationwide has been dropping – from 111,851 cases treated at ERs in 2004, to 97,908 in 2009. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the devices have become any less dangerous, Briskin told Reuters Health.
“Even though there has been a decrease in injuries,” she said, “I caution people against taking that too literally because the number of trampolines has also decreased.”
The actual risk of hurting yourself if you step onto a trampoline is not clear, Briskin added, because there are no good data on national exposure. The rate of hospitalization due to the injuries is about three percent.
Mark Publicover, founder and president of JumpSport Inc, a trampoline manufacturer in San Jose, California, scoffed at the AAP’s recommendations.
He said he invented a safety net that encircles the trampoline and cuts the number of injuries by half. And, he added, if parents ban trampolines, their children might start climbing trees, using swings or skateboards, for instance.
“If you look at all those activities, a safety-enclosed trampoline is safer by hours of use,” Publicover told Reuters Health. “When they say, ‘Don’t use trampolines with a safety enclosure,’ they are going to increase the number of injuries.”
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Image: Kids on trampoline, via Shutterstock
Friday, August 17th, 2012
A San Francisco mother is alleging that United Airlines failed to keep track of her 10-year-old daughter, who was flying to summer camp on her own and was supposed to be tracked by a child-care service offered by the airline. MSNBC.com reports:
Ten-year-old Phoebe was headed for a summer camp in Traverse City, Mich., when she boarded her flight from San Francisco in June. But she failed to make her connection in Chicago because the person hired to help her make the plane change — a United contractor — never showed up.
After getting the call from the camp counselor, Annie Klebahn called United, who insisted her daughter was already in Michigan. “So at that point is when I really knew that they had lost her at some level; they didn’t know where she was,” Klebahn told NBC News. “All the worst possible things go through your mind as a mom when you think you have no idea where your child is and she’s 2,000 miles away.”
Phoebe said a United employee eventually walked her to a waiting room for unaccompanied minors.
“I asked several times to call my mom because I knew she’d be worried because no one really knew where I was,” Phoebe said. “But they kept saying, ‘Hang out a minute, we’re busy.’”
Image: Empty airport waiting room, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, July 26th, 2012
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued a stop-sale order for Buckyballs, a magnetic stress ball toy that is meant for adults but has caused dangerous health problems in children. The ban is despite efforts by Buckyballs’ efforts to prevent the product from getting into children’s hands; the company’s website still has a statement reading, “A government agency (the Consumer Product Safety Commission) is saying they should be recalled because children occasionally get ahold of them. This is unfair. We market exclusively to adults. We are vigorously defending our right to market these products you love.”
Reuters reports on the CPSC’s decision:
The commission ordered distributor Maxfield and Oberton Holdings of New York to halt sales because injuries to children who had swallowed them had continued to rise, the CPSC said in a complaint.
“Notwithstanding the labeling, warnings and efforts taken by (Maxfield and Oberton), ingestion incidents continued to rise because warnings are ineffective,” the CPSC said. It said the magnets presented a “substantial product hazard.”
Buckyballs are small, powerful round rare earth magnets that are sold as toys and desktop accessories. When children swallow them they can pinch or trap intestines and require surgery to remove, the CPSC said.
Since they went on the market in 2009, numerous incidents involving children have been reported. In January 2011, a 4-year-old boy had his intestine perforated after he swallowed three magnets he thought were chocolate candy, the complaint said.
Although the commission issued a safety alert in November, it has received more than a dozen reports since then of children ingesting the magnets, with many requiring surgery, it said.
Image: Buckyballs, via http://www.ohgizmo.com/
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Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced it is changing the rules regarding how child car seats are attached to cars, affecting mostly older toddlers and children over age 3. The system known as LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), which has become standard in many cars and which makes car seats easier to install, cannot be guaranteed to be safe if the car seat and child’s combined weight exceeds 65 pounds. USA Today has more:
Joseph Colella, one of five child-safety advocates who petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to change the rule, says the anchor requirements are based on old child seats and outdated recommendations on how long kids should be in child seats.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers sought the change in the rule because limits weren’t factoring in how much seats weigh. Colella says carmakers aren’t able to guarantee the safety of heavier kids given the strength of LATCH anchors. The alliance was not available for comment.
The advocates say the minimum strength requirements should be increased.
LATCH use and awareness are already low. A study last summer by the advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide found child-seat checkpoint technicians were using the lower anchors to attach seats only about 30% of the time. And Safe Kids found just 30% of parents use the top tether straps, which prevent head injuries in crashes.
“Disconnecting tethers when their use is needed … could lead to a tragedy,” says Stephanie Tombrello of advocacy group SafetyBeltSafe, one of the petitioners.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that children use car seats until age 8 has apparently led to manufacturers making different, sometimes heavier seats.
Image: Baby in a car seat, via Shutterstock.
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Monday, March 12th, 2012
A number of brands of small magnetic balls that are designed to alleviate stress in adults are causing serious problems for children, because kids are swallowing them and requiring serious abdominal surgery as a result. CNN.com reports:
They are powerful pea-size magnets marketed as stress relievers for harried adults but called a safety risk for children by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The magnets are sold under the brand names Buckyballs and Nanospheres among others.
“We want parents to be aware of the danger associated with these innocent-looking magnets,” safety commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a November statement. “The potential for serious injury and death if multiple magnets are swallowed demands that parents and medical professionals be aware of this hidden hazard and know how to treat a child in distress.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission then reported 22 incidents involving the magnets from 2009 through October. “Of the reported incidents, 17 involved magnet ingestion and 11 required surgical removal of the magnets. When a magnet has to be removed surgically, it often requires the repair of the child’s damaged stomach and intestines,” the commission statement said.
The Buckyballs website has posted a public service announcement video reminding parents that their product is not intended for children. Five warnings appear on the product’s packaging as well.
Image: Buckyballs, via http://everyjoe.com/
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