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Most Holiday Injuries to Kids Spurred by Everyday Mishaps

More than 500,000 a year wind up in ER during major U.S. holidays, researchers find,,

TUESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- While more kids are injured during the holidays, it's not too many chocolate bunnies, stray fireworks or glass decorations that do the most damage, a new study shows.

Rather, it is the routine slips and scrapes that children are more likely to fall prey to, the researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, noted.

"Although people participate in unique activities around the holidays, the greatest proportion of injuries were not actually holiday-specific," said study author Christy Collins, a senior research associate at the hospital's Center for Injury Research and Policy.

"We need to work not only to prevent injuries that are holiday-specific, but we must also continue efforts to prevent injuries from everyday activities on the holidays as well as throughout the year," she said.

The report was released online April 5 in advance of publication in the May print issue of Pediatrics.

For the study, Collins and her colleagues collected data on some 5.7 million injuries suffered by children during the holidays between 1997 and 2006.

The researchers found that most of the injuries happened in the five days around Labor Day, followed by Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Halloween.

Most of the injuries were from sports, recreation or related to things in the home, not from activities that were specifically connected to the holiday.

For example, as expected, injuries from fireworks happened on the Fourth of July, but these made up only 2.9 percent of injuries in the five-day period around the holiday.

The majority of injuries were to the face, fingers, hands and head. The most common injuries were lacerations, contusions and abrasions, fractures, sprains and strains.

Most of injuries that happened on holidays were sports- and recreation-related. In addition, injuries from falling down stairs and falling over furniture were also common, the researchers found.

"Parents need to be aware that sometimes in the excitement of the holiday environment and activities it is also important to prevent those everyday injuries like the slips and the falls and the bicycle-related injuries, the sports and recreation injuries," Collins said.

Dr. Michael J. Mello, director of the Injury Prevention Center at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, said that "no one wants to spend a holiday in the emergency department, but this article tells us that about 500,000 families do that each year for an injury to a child or adolescent."

These holiday-related injuries are frequently preventable, Mello added.

"Parental supervision may be compromised during busy holiday events," he noted. "It is not what parents want to hear, that when they were looking for a holiday and to relax that they must continue or even increase their parental supervision," he said.

More information

For more information on childhood injuries, visit Safe Kids USA.

SOURCES: Christy Collins, M.A., senior research associate, Center for Injury Research and Policy, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio; Michael J. Mello, M.D., M.P.H., director, Injury Prevention Center, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, R.I.; April 5, 2010, Pediatrics, online

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