Stories about: Injury Prevention

Making sure your children aren’t driving distracted

A new study released by the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine attempts to show just how dangerous distracted driving can be for young people. The report states that drivers, especially young and inexperienced ones, are at a far greater risk to get into a car accident when they get distracted by things like cell phones, looking at roadside scenery or eating while driving.

And while the study’s findings aren’t exactly groundbreaking, it is cold hard proof of just how serious a problem distracted driving has become in the mobile communication era.

So, if we all know that distracted driving is dangerous, what can we do to make sure the message sticks with young drivers, most of whom have grown up with a cell phone always within reach? It’s a question Maria McMahon, MSN, manager of the Trauma Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, has spent a lot of time thinking about. “As a mother, one of my biggest fears was my son getting his license,” she says. “Cars are dangerous machines. When you factor in all the mistakes a young, inexperienced driver can make, even without distractions, it’s more than enough to scare any parent.”

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Data analysis shows bike helmet laws save young lives

Photo by Michael Bentley

Spring is finally making its way to Boston, and with it comes the wonderful outdoor activities that children wait for all winter. Riding a bike usually tops the list, and new research underscores the importance of wearing helmets—no matter how young the child, how short the ride or how safe the street.

A study in the Journal of Pediatrics, conducted by William P. Meehan III, MD, Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH, Rebekah C. Mannix, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital, and Christopher M. Fischer, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, shows that simply having helmet laws in place results in a 20 percent decrease in death rates and injuries for children younger than 16 who had been in bicycle-motor vehicle collisions. Research has already shown that people who wear helmets while riding a bike have an 88 percent lower risk of brain injury; but the first step is getting people to wear those helmets—and having laws can help.

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Fall safety tips

New England autumn brings with it shorter days, cooler temperatures, and if your house is anything like mine, a hefty amount of football on Sundays. It’s pretty easy to see why fall is my favorite time of the year.

But fall isn’t just beautiful foliage and touch down passes—the season presents some unique safety hazards for kids. Fortunately, when well-informed parents and kids know what to look for, many of these accidents can be avoided.

Pedestrian safety

By now, school is back in full swing. Do your children walk or bike to class? Do they spend the after-school hours playing around the neighborhood? If so make sure they know and follow these safety rules:

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Pediatrics studies SIDS risk in African American families

Lois Lee, MD, MPH

The excitement of decorating a baby’s room is a wonderful rite of passage for every parent. It’s also a big business for manufacturers. If you look in any baby related catalog, the choices for furniture, bedding and toys seems unlimited. But even though having so many options for matching sheets, blankets, crib bumpers and stuffed animals for your baby’s crib may seem appealing, these items put infants at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)* as well as suffocation, strangulation and entrapment.

It is well known that there are significant disparities in some medical conditions between different races and ethnicities, and SIDS risks are no exception. In infants born to black mothers, the rate of SIDS is more than twice that of white, non-Hispanic infants.  In addition, black infants have much higher rates of death due to accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, often caused by unsafe bedding items.

To better understand the reasons why the use of soft bedding is more prominent in black families, researchers from Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C. recently conducted a study of infant bedding practices in black mothers. It’s hoped that by compiling this type of data, the medical community can better identify and educate at-risk families, resulting in safer infant sleep surfaces in the United States.

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