Gary L. Freed
Poll results published by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital suggested that almost one in five children aged 4 to 13 years who ride bicycles never wears a helmet.
Gary L. Freed, MD, MPH, the Percy and Mary Murphy Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told Infectious Diseases in Children that 600 children present to EDs every day in the United States with bicycle-related injuries.
“Not all of those are serious injuries, but probably 4% or 5% of those kids get hospitalized,” he said. “Parents need to take this quite seriously. Even though they think their kids are great riders, that does not prevent them from being hit by a car, hitting a rock or hitting a pothole and falling off their bike.”
Of the 1,330 parents who responded to the survey, four in five said their child rides a bike, half reported that their child uses a nonmotorized scooter and 17% said their child rides a skateboard. Most children (73%) rode their bikes on sidewalks and in parks or on trails (59%).
Only 59% of parents said their child always wears a helmet while biking, whereas 18% said their child never wore a helmet. The percentage of parents who reported that their child always wore a helmet were lower for skateboarding (42%) and riding a scooter (39%). Parents of younger children were more likely to report consistent helmet use.
Although most parents had rules about their child wearing helmets, 22% of parents said they had no rules in place for bike riding, 27% had no rules for skateboarding and 34% said they had no rules for riding a scooter.
“One of the most important responsibilies of a pediatrician is preventive counseling to make sure both parents and children know how to stay safe,” Freed said. “It would be wonderful for pediatricians and other health care providers to have a discussion with parents and kids about safety at well-child visits and any other opportunity they may have this time of year.” – by Katherine Bortz
Freed G, et al. CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Child Health. 2019;34(2).
Disclosure: Freed reports no relevant financial disclosures.