The number and rate of shopping cart injuries among small children have continued to increase even after a voluntary safety standard was created in 2004, according to a study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH.

Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, researchers estimated that 530,494 children below the age of 15 were injured by shopping carts between the years 1990 and 2011. Falling out of the shopping cart caused the majority of injuries (70.4 percent), followed by running into/falling over the cart, cart tip-overs, and entrapment of a limb.
Almost 80 percent of injuries were to the head and were generally soft-tissue injuries. However, the number of concussions and internal head injuries skyrocketed to 12,333 in 2011 from 3,483 in 1990 – an increase of over 200 percent.

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Researchers called for stronger safety cart standards and design changes to prevent tip-overs and falls from shopping carts. In addition, Nationwide Children’s Hospital offered the following safety tips for adults with young kids:

  • Do not place your child in a shopping cart if at all possible.
  • Never use carts with broken or missing straps and/or buckles.
  • Use shopping cart safety straps, and place your child’s legs through the leg holes in the front of the cart.
  • Make sure your child stays sitting down, not standing or jumping.
  • Do not leave your child unattended in the cart.
  • Do not put car seats or carriers on top of the shopping cart.

“It is important for parents to understand that shopping carts can be a source of serious injury for their children,” said lead author Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide and pediatrics professor at Ohio State University. “However, they can reduce the risk of injury by taking a few simple steps of precaution, such as always using shopping cart safety belts if their child needs to ride in the cart.”

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