Shopping Cart Injuries to Children in Maine a Daily Occurrence

More than once every half hour, a child suffers a shopping cart injury in Maine.
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In fact, it’s a problem across the country, despite voluntary safety standards that were adopted by the industry back in 2004.

A new study, conducted by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio and published in the journal “Clinical Pediatrics” in January, reveals that concussions and closed-head injuries resulting from shopping cart use has increased over the last several decades.

Researchers say that some 531,000 children under the age of 15 were admitted to the hospital between 1990 and 2011 for injuries that occurred as a result of shopping carts. As the Bangor Daily News breaks it down, that is 24,000 children every single year, which translates to 66 injuries every day.

A pediatrician with the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor was quoted as saying that parents must be extremely careful when placing their children in carts. He personally sees patients who have suffered shopping cart injuries about twice annually.

Children are primarily hurt in falls, accounting for about 70 percent of all incidents. But they may also be at risk if they jump, are pinched in the seat, get a body part stuck in the metal bars or get hit by a cart.

These injuries are greater than just cuts and bruises. We’re talking about broken limbs, serious lacerations and severe head and brain injuries.

In fact, the yearly rate of internal head injuries and concussions climbed upward by more than 200 percent over the course of the study period. By 2011, some 12,350 children annually were suffering from head injuries due to an incident with a shopping cart.

Most of the time, these injuries are to children under the age of four, especially those ages 1 and 2.

This is in spite of the fact those safety standards that were passed by the industry. The American Society for Testing and Materials International sets this voluntary safety standard for test methods, labeling and performance requirements, which are meant to cover children between 6 months and 4 years of age, weighing between 15 and 35 pounds. Among other requirements, the standards mandate that the seat have an adjustable restraint system with closures or buckles. The standards also require each cart to carry a warning label with pictures that include specific safety messages.

But it seems these standards aren’t enough. The study author was quoted as saying that the research findings appear to clearly indicate that the safety standards, as they stand now, are not adequate to protect children. Since the time these standards were adopted, child injuries from shopping cart haven’t decreased and in fact are increasing.

Among the suggestions made by researchers:

  • Improve cart safety restraint systems;
  • Design carts so that the child seat is closer to the floor;
  • Encourage stores and employees to promote the use of safety belts.

Beyond that, parents are encouraged to always use the harness provided, never leave children unattended and stay close to the cart. Better yet, put your child in a stroller, wagon or front pack, rather than a shopping cart.

If your child has been injured in Bangor, contact us at 1-800-804-2004 or read more on our website.

Additional Resources:
Shopping cart injuries send 66 kids to nation’s ERs each day, study finds, Jan. 27, 2014, By Jackie Farwell, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:
Exculpatory Agreements for Children Have Varied Enforcement in Maine, Dec. 30, 2014, Bangor Child Injury Lawyer Blog