New studies have shown that approximately 1,800 children are seen in emergency rooms across the United States each year due to popular baby gates. The study was published online Monday in the journal American Pediatrics. Researcher Lara McKenzie and colleagues at Nationwide Children’s Hospital conducted the new study, which focused its data on children under the age of six years old who were injured from baby gates. Baby gates are most commonly used to keep small children out of harm’s way, however, as the study shows, the gates themselves can be hazardous.
Several thousand children were treated for fractures and traumatic brain injuries due to incidents involving the baby gates. The Executive Director at nonprofit advocacy group Kids in Danger stated that the gates oftentimes do not hold weight properly, causing it to fall over.
There are currently no federal safety regulations for baby gate design. This may surprise many people because these products can be found in most homes with children. Safety standards are only voluntary, so manufacturers can choose not to include various features, such as wall installation hardware.
Child safety advocates point out that many injuries could be caused by parents who use the wrong type of gate. Some of the products come with hardware that requires installation into a wall; this is the only type of gate that should be used at the top of a staircase. The pressure-mounted gates are a better choice to separate rooms or for use at the bottom of stairs, but they should be regularly checked for a safe and secure fit, to prevent the gate from accidentally harming a child who may climb on it or push or pull on it.
The study showed that most of the children injured by these gates were boys over the age of two, and about 16 percent of all injured children suffered concussions. Experts believe that injures related to baby gates are increasing because more parents are using them more often, which, if installed and maintained properly, is a good thing. But what is meant to protect a child can end up harming them.
Between 1990 and 2010, the number of children injured by baby gates more than tripled. These cases climbed from about 4 per 100,000 children in 1990 to almost 13 per 100,000 in 2010. One of the study authors stated that consumers must do a better job determining which types of gates are installed where, and ensuring that they fit securely.
Experts suggest using the gates in homes with children ages six months to two years, making sure that all hardware-mounted gates are used at the top of the stairs, and pressure-mounted gates used at the bottom of stairs or in between rooms.
If your child sustained an injured by a defective product, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878). You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and continued medical care.