Having an infant or a toddler in the house is a pleasure to the family but it might as well be a painstaking job to ensure the safety of the child in and around the house. Parents nowadays take a number of steps to keep their homes child-friendly: they install rubber edges for tables, avoid getting sharp-edged items, don’t leave any dangerous things within a kid’s reach and even arrange for wall-to-wall carpets. Remember those days when you built a pillow wall around your sleeping child to prevent him/her from falling off the bed? We cannot forget those golden days when we were constantly on the move removing small objects and dust that might attract our kid’s attention. Even when they grow into teens, they bring upon problems such as concussions or fractures due to their over-spirited sporting skills. Despite mammoth efforts, there are daily cases of emergency reported in hospitals complaining of a sudden fall of the infant from the high-raise bed or a concussion acquired from playing football. We can see angry and helpless parents accusing each other of how the situation could have been avoided in the first place and the helpless child either lying unconscious or bleeding on the emergency table!
We now have a new study from USA showing that traumatic brain injuries in kids and adolescents are mostly associated with daily consumer products and activities such as home fixtures and sporting practices. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain and occurs when the head hits an object suddenly or when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue. TBI is predominantly present in males. Believe it or not, boys and young men still seem to be naughtier trying to act on an impulse, are engaged in dangerous sporting activities and try to outpower each other ending up in TBI and other issues. Is it all wired in the genes? This is something to think upon and for inputs on this you can always visit www.firsteatright.com for information.
Non-fatal Traumatic Brain Injuries
The study performed on children aged <1-19 years showed that nearly 3 of 4 nonfatal TBIs that necessitated a visit to the emergency department (ED) involved common consumer products. During the study period more than 4 million pediatric TBI patients were admitted to the ED of which 72% (three-fourth of non-fatal TBIs) of them were linked to consumer products. The product groups associated with TBI included sports/recreation, home furnishings and fixtures, home structures and construction materials, child nursery equipment, toys, home electronics, personal use products and other similar products. In the sports category, football, basketball and bicycles were common causes; in the household category, beds, chairs and tables were predominant contributors; and in the home structures and construction materials product group floors, stairs and ceiling/walls led to the greatest number of TBIs. Beds were the most common cause of TBI in kids younger than 5 years, bicycles were the common culprits in kids aged 5-9 years and football was primarily associated with TBIs in children between 10 and 19 years. Uneven flooring and fabricated stairs commonly lead to falls due to slipping, tripping and falling. This finding is not something new but the statistics are alarming. Kids younger than 5 are mostly indoors which prompts them to explore the house as much as possible. Interestingly, car seats were quoted as the fifth leading cause of injury in infants. While the seats ensure better safety when used rightly many parents use them as baby carriers in a risky way. Kids between 5 and 9 start playing outdoors on their own and are often seen cycling on their tri- or bicycles that can lead to falls and injuries during the initial days of practice or during those times when they race, and children above 9 years are engaged in active sports, their energy levels are great and they cannot be curtailed to play slowly or consciously-such is their age.
But doctors can play a role in preventing TBI. While diagnosing and treating the physician asks about the background of the head injury and also discusses its symptoms. During these times, the doctor can utilize the opportunity to talk to parents and kids about the precautionary and safety measures they can take to avoid such injuries in the future. Even during visits that don’t pertain to TBIs the physician can educate their patients on the risks of TBIs and help them go through measures that can minimize the risk.
Parents, please never leave infants and toddlers unattended. You might be very busy but kids deserve our full attention. The child might seem to be engrossed in playing the xylophone for a minute but the moment you disappear he/she might try to insert his/her hand into the plug socket or jump off the bed. Older children too need proper guidance and instructions before they are sent off for playing games or riding a bicycle. Work can be completed anytime but life lost cannot be replaced! We cannot be perfect and there are chances that children might hit, twist, fall or hurt themselves in the process of growing up (and this is not bad!) but we should take every action possible to ensure that the kid is not pushed into dangerous situations due to our lack of concentration.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.
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