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Report: Shopping Carts Better at Keeping Groceries Safe than Kids

PHOTO: Shopping carts can be a major source of injuries for Florida children, according to a new study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Photo credit: morguefile.com
PHOTO: Shopping carts can be a major source of injuries for Florida children, according to a new study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Photo credit: morguefile.com
February 4, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Shopping carts can be a major source of injuries for Florida children. In a new study from Nationwide Children's Hospital, researchers say from 1990 to 2011, more than 530,000 children were treated in emergency rooms across the country for injuries involving shopping carts, including falls, entrapment and carts that tipped over on them.

According to Dr. Gary Smith, director of Nationwide's Center for Injury Research and Policy, parents' and children's behavior is a factor, but there also are flaws in shopping cart design.

"The current shopping cart standard simply is not adequate," the doctor charged. "It does not have a component that addresses the stability of the cart to help prevent the tip-overs, despite the fact that other countries have such tip-over prevention standards."

The study recommends some design changes, such as improving performance standards for the safety belt or restraint systems, and placing the seating area of the cart near the floor. Smith said the latter change improves safety by lowering the cart's center of gravity, which reduces the risk of a tip-over. Falls would also be less serious if the child sits closer to the floor.

He describes the variety of injuries children can suffer from a shopping cart accident as including "everything from bruises and cuts all the way up to major fractures and concussions. And in this study, we did not have any deaths, but I'm aware of deaths that have occurred from falls from shopping carts."

Whenever possible, he said, parents should look for alternatives to putting kids in shopping carts, whether it's leaving children with another adult or in a supervised play area in the store. For very little ones, he suggested using an infant carrier. If you must use a cart, he recommended choosing one with the child seat low to the ground, following the safety instructions, and ensuring the child is secure.

"They should use the restraint systems that are there and, as best they can, watch their children as close as they can while they shop. But even that is tough to do," Smith cautioned. "These injuries can and do occur in just the time it takes to reach for something on the shelf, as you turn your head."

The study is published in the January print issue of Clinical Pediatrics.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - FL