CHICAGO — It may seem like an novel way to calm the nerves of a toddler too afraid to go down a playground slide alone, but a new study finds that sliding down with your child on your lap increases the chances they’ll break their leg or suffer a serious leg injury.
Researchers at the American Academy of Pediatrics found that from 2002 to 2015, more than 350,000 children under the age of 6 were injured on slides in the U.S. The younger the child, the higher the likelihood they were to suffer an injury, as evidenced by toddlers aged 12 to 23 months being the most injured subgroup, accounting for 22 percent of injuries.
Bone fractures, which usually impacted a child’s lower leg, were the most common injury among those examined at 36 percent. Lacerations accounted for 19 percent of the injuries.
Parents were culpable in most of these cases, as their seated child’s leg would snag the bottom of the slide, bending their leg backwards.
“Many parents and caregivers go down a slide with a young child on their lap without giving it a second thought,” says lead researcher Dr. Charles Jennissen in a press release. “And in most cases I have seen, the parents had no idea that doing so could possibly give their child such a significant injury. They often say they would never have done it had they known.”
Apparently, the stature of a parent plays a big role in the risk they pose, as heavier moms and dads can increase the force with which the duo descend the slide.
Understanding the exponential impact of force helps explain why it’s simply safest for a child to go down a slide on their own, even as an older adolescent.
Should a parent or child find themselves in a co-sliding arrangement, they must take extreme caution, the researchers warn.
The study’s findings were being presented today at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.