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A new paper says the incidents of TVs falling onto children is increasing and causing long term injuries to necks and heads.
The paper, published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, states that the rate of these injuries has increased over the last decade. That trend is expected to continue to rise as TVs are becoming increasingly large and affordable. According to researchers, televisions are found in 95 per cent of Canadian households and many are not properly fixed to walls or stable bases.
As TVs become heavier they are more likely to cause fractures and intracranial hemorrhages, which can be fatal.
"Parents have to be aware that TVs can seriously harm children," said Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael's Hospital and lead author of the paper. "But these injuries are highly predictable and preventable."
According to Dr. Cusimano, children between one and three years of age are most susceptible to these injuries and are more likely to suffer severe injuries than older children. Many of these injuries occur when toddlers climb onto furniture to retrieve toys or bump into unstable TV bases, causing TVs to topple onto their heads. Because toddlers are usually shorter than most TV stands, their head is most often the first point of contact when a TV falls.
The paper looked at 29 studies from seven countries analyzing TV-related head and neck injuries. The researchers found that 84 per cent of reported injuries occurred at home, with three-fourths of these injuries not witnessed by adult caregivers.
"TVs are often placed on unstable bases, placed on high furniture like dressers, which aren't designed for TVs, or not properly secured to the wall," said Dr. Cusimano. "Meanwhile, parents are getting busier and busier and don't have as much time to supervise children, so it's not surprising that these injuries are getting reported more often."
Dr. Cusimano compiled a list of methods to help prevent children from sustaining such injuries. These include:
"Too many children are sustaining head trauma from an easily preventable TV toppling event," said Dr. Cusimano. "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."
The paper also found that children between two and five years old have significant exposure to TVs - spending more than 32 hours per week in front of TVs - making them susceptible to these sorts of injuries.
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