It’s a slippery slope to injury.
A new study finds that while young kids may feel safer going down a slide on a parent’s lap, this common practice actually raises their risk for harm.
“Many parents and caregivers go down a slide with a young child on their lap without giving it a second thought,” said lead researcher Dr. Charles Jennissen. He is a pediatric emergency staff physician at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
“And in most cases I have seen, the parents had no idea that doing so could possibly give their child such a significant injury. They often say they would never have done it had they known,” he added in a news release from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
For the study, the researchers checked a national database of injuries treated in emergency departments across the United States. The investigators identified more than 350,000 playground slide injuries involving children younger than 6 years old that occurred from 2002 through 2015.
Of these injuries, 59 percent involved boys. Some of the children had cuts. More than one-third of children who landed in the ER after going down a slide on an adult’s lap had broken a bone, the study showed. The researchers noted these breaks usually involved the child’s lower leg.
Lower leg injuries can result when a child’s foot gets caught on the edge or the bottom of the slide, causing it to twist or bend backwards, according to the researchers. In most cases, these injuries involve toddlers aged 12 months to 23 months, the study authors found.
Slide injuries are more likely to occur when children are riding with a parent because the added weight of an adult increases their forward momentum. If children use a slide alone, however, their smaller size and weight are unlikely to result in a severe leg injury, Jennissen and colleagues explained.
Adults and teens should not go down slides with a child on their lap, the researchers advised. Those who choose to do so anyway should be particularly careful about making sure children’s feet do not get caught on any part of the slide.
The study findings were scheduled for presentation Sept. 18 at the American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in Chicago. Findings presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about playground safety.