Study highlights the dangers of “bounce houses”

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – An accident involving children who were tossed from an inflatable “bounce house” in New York on Tuesday has focused attention on the dangers associated with the use of them.

Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio found that from 1995 to 2010 there was a 15-fold increase in the number of inflatable bouncer-related injuries that were treated in U.S. emergency departments among children younger than 18 years of age. In 2010 alone, more than 30 children per day, or about one child every 45 minutes, were treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries associated with inflatable bouncers.

A study published in the December 2012 print issue of Pediatrics fractures (28 percent) and strains or sprains (27 percent) were the most common form of injuries, approximately one in five injuries were to the head and neck.  Falls were the most common cause of injuries (43 percent) followed by stunts and collisions.

The study’s authors found injury patterns similar for inflatable bouncers and trampolines, however there are national safety guidelines for trampoline use.

“The findings from this study show that there has been an alarming increase in the number of injuries from inflatable bouncers,” said Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “It is time for us to take action to prevent these injuries. Ensuring that parents are aware of the potential risks, improving surveillance of the injuries, developing national safety guidelines and improving bouncer design are the first steps.”

Nationwide Children’s Hospital recommends that until national safety guidelines are in place, parents should consider limiting the use to children six years of age and older and there should be an adult present to supervise their behavior.  If more than one child is allowed in the bouncer, they should be of similar age and size.

Data for the study were obtained from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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