By: Steven C. Rogers, MD, MS-CTR
With the busy holiday shopping season upon us, it’s important for physicians and consumer groups to encourage parents and caregivers to research toys to ensure the ones they plan to purchase are safe.
I see the impact of dangerous toys on children through my work as an emergency physician at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and as a research scientist with Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center. While some encounters with such toys cause minor injuries, others result in severe trauma for children which can cause lifelong consequences or even death.
Last year in the United States, more than 170,000 children were treated in emergency departments for toy related injuries. That is far too many. Of those children, seven died from toy-related injuries and most of those deaths were caused by riding toys, like scooters, that collided with cars.
Toy-related injuries usually happen in or near a child’s own home and they are all preventable.
Through the Injury Prevention Center, we conduct extensive research and participate in community educational programs to reach parents and caregivers in an effort to prevent such injuries.
One of the ways we raise awareness about this issue takes place every November when Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, or ConnPIRG, releases its annual Trouble in Toyland report. Connecticut Children’s hosted the event and I was proud to speak along with Senator Richard Blumenthal, State Child Advocate Sarah Eagan, and others.
We encourage parents and caregivers to follow this advice when shopping for toy:
• Pick out age appropriate toys
• Inspect the toys to make sure they are safe
• Supervise your children by actively playing with them as they interact with the toy
• Provide your children with a safe place to use toys and the right safety equipment, such as helmets for riding toys
Always remember that this holiday season, the best gift you can give a child is a loving and safe environment in which you make a point to play with them, read to them, and spend time with them because that is what they will remember once all of the toys are gone.
Steven C. Rogers, MD, MS-CTR is an attending physician and director of mental health services in Connecticut Children’s Emergency Department. He is also a research scientist with Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center.