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Traumatic Amputations in Children Have High Costs

Better interventions could prevent trapped fingers in doors, expert says

FRIDAY, Feb. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Finger and thumb amputations accounted for almost two-thirds of all pediatric amputations due to trauma in the United States in 2003, a new study shows.

In total, the researchers found that there were more than 950 cases of traumatic amputations among children aged 17 and younger that year. In children aged 4 and younger, amputations due to being caught in or between objects were most common. More than 80 percent of those amputations involved a finger or thumb.

A previous study, which looked at 2005 statistics, found that kids up to age 2 had the highest rate of finger amputations among the childhood age groups. Many of those amputations were caused by injuries related to doors.

"Doors are easily accessible to the exploring fingers of young children, who are unaware of the potential dangers," study co-author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said in a hospital news release. "Prevention strategies, such as doorstops and other door design modifications, can help to reduce the number of door-related amputation injuries."

The new study also reports that the inpatient costs of these amputation injuries added up to more than $21 million nationally, for an estimated 3,900 days of hospitalization.

"It is imperative that more effective interventions to prevent these costly injuries among children be developed, implemented and evaluated," Smith said in the news release.

The findings were published in the January issue of the Journal of Trauma.

More information

A British Web site has details on protecting kids from door-related injuries.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Nationwide Children's Hospital, news release, Feb. 1, 2010

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