Kids falling off bikes costs $200 million a year
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 10,000 children and teens go to the hospital every year in the United States after falling off or crashing their bicycles, racking up $200 million in hospital fees, researchers reported on Tuesday.
They estimated that 10,700 children are hospitalized annually for a bicycle-related injury, with an average stay of three days. And too few appear to have been wearing helmets.
"Bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except the automobile," Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Ohio State University, said in a statement.
"The high rate of hospitalization and use of health care resources identified in our study supports the need for increased attention to bicycle-related injuries."
Writing in the October issue of the journal Injury Prevention, Smith and colleagues said they looked at detailed data on inpatient hospital stays from the federal Agency for Health Care Quality and Research.
"It's a nationwide sample," Smith said in a telephone interview.
Most studies have relied on data from emergency room visits.
"An estimated 500,000 bike-related injuries are treated in emergency departments each year in this country," Smith said.
Smith, an emergency room pediatrician, said his report was the first to look at inpatient stays. He estimated that bicycle-related injuries among children and adolescents result in nearly $200 million in hospital inpatient charges annually.
The study also found motor vehicles were involved in 30 percent of bicycle-related hospitalizations and that a third of the hospitalized children had traumatic brain injuries.
"We know that bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of brain injury by up to 85 percent. We need to increase efforts to promote helmet use by children riding bicycles," Smith said.
"The top three things that I tell parents they can do to protect their child when riding a bicycle is 'wear a helmet, wear a helmet, wear a helmet'."