Baby gates used by parents to keep their children out of areas of the home and protect them from falling down stairs, do not yet provide the amount of protection that parents may believe.
A recent study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio has indicated that the number of children injured by climbing on or falling through baby gates has more than tripled in the last twenty years. The rate of injury has climbed from 4 children per thousand in 1990 to 13 children per thousand in 2010. The study focused on children under six.
While many of the injuries are not serious, nearly 2000 baby gate related injuries require emergency room treatment each year in the United States. The purpose of this information is not to encourage parents not to use baby gates, but rather the opposite: to make parents aware that baby gates must be used and installed properly. Only baby gates that can be bolted, or securely attached to the walls should be used at the top of stairs, with pressure mounted baby gates reserved only for the bottom of stairs, or non-stair opening applications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists traumatic brain injury as the leading cause of disability and death in children in the United States, with ages 0-4 as one of the greatest risk groups. Falls are a primary cause of these closed head injuries in infants. If you know someone who uses a baby gate to protect their children, please make certain that those used at the top of stairs are the correct gates and are properly installed.