Soft furniture doesn’t cushion risk of falls by young children

Data shows more than 230,000 children land in the emergency department each year after tumbling off beds and sofas-now the leading cause of injury to patients under 5.


Children frequently fall out of bed but seldom incur serious injury. When such a fall raises parental concern, the pediatrician is consulted; even in this group, the child is rarely found to have a severe injury.

Despite the fact, a new research abstract being presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2018 National Conference & Exhibition shows more than 2 million children under age 5 were treated in hospital emergency departments for soft furniture-related injuries between 2007 and 2016.

Lead researcher and author Viachaslau Bradko, MD said, “Parents often leave young children on a bed or sofa, stepping away for a bit and thinking it’s not dangerous. But our research shows that these types of falls are now the most common source of injury in this age group. In fact, children were 2.5 times more likely to be hurt by falls from beds and sofas than they were from stair-related injuries.”

Scientists used a nationally representative sample to study bed and sofa-related injuries. They analyzed the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission National Electronic Injury Surveillance System data from 2007 through 2016. They found that an estimated 2.3 million children age 5 and younger were treated for soft furniture-related injuries during that time period, averaging 230,026 injuries per year.

Characteristics of Bed- and Sofa-Related Injuries Among Children <5 Years, United States, 2007-2016  CREDIT Viachaslau Bradko
Characteristics of Bed- and Sofa-Related Injuries Among Children <5 Years, United States, 2007-2016
Viachaslau Bradko

An estimated,

  • Approximately 62 percent of children had injuries to the head and facial region. Fortunately, severe, life-threatening trauma was rare, but 2.7 percent of patients were hospitalized.
  • Children younger than a year old when they were injured accounted for 28 percent of injuries among the patients, and they were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized than children over age 1.
  • Boys (56 percent of cases) were more likely to be injured than girls.

Dr. Bradko said, “In addition, bed and sofa-related injuries among children under age 5 increased by more than 16 percent during the study period. With falls from beds and sofas hurting such a large and growing number of infants, toddlers, and young children, there’s a serious need to step up prevention efforts.”

“This includes reminding parents to constantly keep their eyes on young children when they’re on elevated surfaces, including soft furnishings, for example. In addition, the findings should prompt manufacturers to improve safety design and consider warning labels. For example, furniture manufacturers might advise consumers against allowing young children to be left unattended on beds without properly installed guard rails or allowing children to jump on or off furniture above a certain height.”

The study abstract, “Bed and Sofa-Related Injuries to Young Children Treated in US Emergency Departments, 2007-2016,” will be presented on Monday, Nov. 5, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.


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