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It serves as a marker of childhood growth when your toddler finally makes the long and arduous crawl up the stairs. However, stairs can be a serious danger. In fact, over the past ten years, statistics estimate that a child under five was treated at an emergency room every six minutes for a stair-related injury. However, as shocking as this statistics may seem, it is better than what it used to be.

Researchers at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus looked at data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for 1999 through 2008. They were specifically interested in this time period because during the 1990s most stair-related injuries were attributed to baby walkers. However, the American Society for Testing and Materials released a new voluntary infant walker standard in 1997. By looking at the time period after the new standard was instituted, the researchers hoped to find that there were fewer stair accidents for young children.

Indeed, the researchers found that the percentage of children injured on stairs dropped by 11.6%. They also found that the largest percentage of injuries occured among 1-year-olds, that injuries were more common in boys than girls, that about 1/3 of the injuries were soft tissue injuries that occured to the head and neck, and that the vast majority of injuries were not serious. To continue the overall decline in stair-related injuries, the researchers suggest that parents not rely on baby safety gates, that they prevent their children from playing on the stairs, and that they not use baby walkers. In addition, they call for the better design and construction of stairs.

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