Coming Soon: The Trampoline Police

Injuries to Children in the United States Related to Trampolines, 1990-1995: A National Epidemic

Received Feb 7, 1997; accepted Sep 25, 1997.

Gary A. Smith

From the Department of Pediatrics, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio.

Study Objective.  To describe the epidemiology of trampoline-related injuries among children in the United States.

Design.  A retrospective analysis of data for children 18 years old and younger from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission for 1990 through 1995.

Results.  There were an estimated 249 400 trampoline-related injuries [95% confidence interval (CI), 166 300-332 500] to children 18 years old and younger treated in hospital emergency departments in the United States during the 6-year study period. The number of injuries increased by 98% from 29 600 in 1990 to 58 400 in 1995, with an average of 41 600 (95% CI, 27 700-55 500) injuries per year, or 59.4 injuries per 100 000 United States children per year (95% CI, 39.6-79.3). The median age of injured children was 10 years, and 50% were males. Ninety-three percent of injuries occurred at home. Injuries to the extremities predominated among children of all ages and accounted for more than 70% of all injuries. This study identified several age-specific injury patterns. There was an inverse relationship between age versus the relative frequency of upper extremity injuries, and fractures and dislocations; and there was a direct relationship between age versus lower extremity injuries and soft tissue injury. There was also an inverse relationship between age versus facial injuries, head and neck injuries, and lacerations. Annually, an estimated 1400 children (95% CI, 800-2000), or 2.0 per 100 000 United States children (95% CI, 1.1-2.9), required hospital admission or interhospital transfer because of a trampoline-related injury. This represented 3.3% of all children with a trampoline-associated injury. Fractures or dislocations accounted for 83% of injuries among admitted or transferred children, and children with a fracture or dislocation were more likely to be admitted or transferred to another hospital (8.4%) than children with other types of injury (relative risk, 10.80; 95% CI, 9.40 < relative risk < 12.29). Among children released home from the emergency department, soft tissue injuries (53%), fractures or dislocations (30%), and lacerations (14%) were the most common injuries treated.

Conclusion.  Injuries related to trampolines, especially backyard trampolines, are an important cause of pediatric morbidity. These injuries have also resulted in death. The rapid increase in the number of trampoline-related injuries to children during recent years is evidence that current prevention strategies are inadequate. Children should not use trampolines at home, and the sale of trampolines for private recreational use should be stopped.

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