Bunk beds risky for children

December 04, 2000

Injuries associated with falls from beds 2000;6:291-2

Children under the age of 6 are at significantly increased risk of injuring themselves falling out of bed. Especially if they sleep in the upper bunk of a bunk bed, finds a study in Injury Prevention.

Over 8,000 children attended the Accident and Emergency Department of a children's hospital in Scotland during a five month audit in 1998. Eighty five of the children had sustained an injury after falling out of a bunk or cot. Over three quarters of them were less than 6 years old. In one in two the injury was classified as "significant."

Most of the children had fallen out of their bunk/bed while asleep, but 10 had fallen off a lower bed or bunk while bouncing or playing on the bed, and one fell while climbing the ladder to an upper bunk. Eight children were injured by hitting furniture as they fell.

Almost a third of the injuries were fractures, most of these occurring in children under 6, and in almost half of these the fall was from an upper bunk. Twenty seven of the children sustained a head injury, seven of whom were either knocked unconscious, or suffered concussion. Other injuries included lacerations and bruising. Fourteen of the children had to be admitted to hospital.

The authors conclude that although there are safety regulations in the UK for bunk beds, and standard recommendations for the safe age for children to use upper bunk beds, "it would appear that parents are either unaware of this advice or it is ignored."
Dr Diana Macgregor, Accident and Emergency Department, Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital, Aberdeen, Scotland.

BMJ Specialty Journals

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