A new study finds that more small children – particularly toddlers – are severely injured after they are attracted by what they see on the screens of larger, high-definition televisions at home and accidently topple them.
The Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics study found that injuries to children caused by falling TVs “have become more frequent during the last decade” and “can be severe and even fatal, and are likely to become even more common in the future as TVs increase in size and become more affordable.”
TVs are commonly large and elevated on tables, shelves and other furniture. Most injuries (84 percent) occur in homes and many require brain surgery. More than 75 percent are not witnessed by parents, babysitters and other adult caregivers. Fatality rates vary widely, but 96 percent of all deaths are due to brain injury, the study found.
“I’ve seen deaths related to this,” Dr. Eric Higginbotham, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Seton’s Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, said. “A child gets hit on the head and dies a couple days later from intercranial injuries,” such as bleeding inside the brain.
Cathode ray tube TVs can be even more dangerous because they’re much heavier, Higginbotham warned. A child can pull drawers out or climb lower shelves, causing the furniture and the TV to tip over.
“It’s almost always head injuries,” he said. They include cracked skulls, neck and spine fractures and severe bruising.
One of the study’s researchers, Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said that, in the U.S., 99 percent of households have a TV, and toddlers spend an average of 32 hours per week in front of one.