Pediatricians are increasing their push to ban infant walkers in the United States, following a recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics which showed despite new safety guidelines, the toy is still causing thousands of injuries.
More than 230,000 children under 15 months of age were sent to the emergency room from 1990 to 2014 due to injuries caused by baby walkers, the study found. Nearly 91% of the injuries were to the head and neck area, while 74% were caused by infants falling down stairs.
Walkers are designed to allow infants to freely walk around while being held upright by a harness and frame.
"But they’re not using full body weight, core muscles, hips, legs, and they’re not figuring out how to balance and move around," argues Dr. Scott Vascik, a pediatrician with UPMC Pinnacle in Carlisle. "A lot of these kids aren’t even crawling yet but were trying to push them and learn how to walk."
Numerous safety measures have been implemented in baby walkers since 1990 which have dramatically decreased the number of injuries. Industry standards changed in 2010, which forced walkers to be wider than normal door frames, and put emergency brakes on wheels when going over the edge of a flight of stairs.
Still, despite a 22 percent drop in infant injuries in the four years after the mandatory regulations went into place compared to the previous four years, doctors still saw an average of 2,165 injuries annually from 2011-14.
"We’re trying to push kids ahead of their developmental milestone and get them to do something they’re probably not ready for," Dr. Vascik said.
A copy of the complete American Academy of Pediatrics report is available below.