Monday, November 30, 2009

Growth and Development Linked to Injury Risk

The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton and Kohl’s Department Stores, as a part of the Kohl’s “A Minute for Kids” Campaign, encourage parents to take a moment and learn more about ways to protect their children from accidental injury. A crucial part of protecting your child from injury is understanding more about their growth and development.

“Growth and development includes not only the physical changes that occur from infancy to early teens, but also some of the changes in emotions, personality, behavior, thinking and speech that children develop as they begin to understand and interact with the world around them,” says Eileen Kasten, MD, medical director of developmental pediatrics at Dayton Children’s.

Understanding your infant and toddler’s development is especially important because children in these age groups have a poor understanding of risks and danger. Their natural curiosity and impulsiveness, failure to appreciate danger and limited ability to handle more than one stimulus at a time puts them at increased risk for injury.

“Young children between 0 to 4 years are particularly susceptible to injury because they lack experience, strength and physical skill,” says Dr. Kasten. “Children at this age are impulsive and don’t have fear. They also tend to disappear quickly from a parent’s view.”

Dayton Children’s and Kohl’s Department Stores offer these tips to help protect your infant or toddler from accidental injury:

Infancy (children 0 to 12 months)

Motor Vehicle Crashes
Use a rear-facing car seat until at least age 1 and a weight of 20 lbs. This is the safest option to support an infant’s weak head, neck and back and prevent spinal cord injuries. Use a rear-facing car seat longer if the seat has a higher weight and height limits.

Supervise children at all times when they are near water. A supervised child is in sight at all times with your undivided attention focused on the child. Infants can die in less than one inch of water. Never leave your baby unattended in or near water, even for a second.

Unsafe Sleep Practices
Practice the ABCs of Safe Sleep. Infants should sleep Alone, on their Back and in a Crib. Make sure the crib is free from blankets, bumper pads, and stuffed animals and meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s guidelines.

Shaken Baby Syndrome
Have a plan. Infants will cry, sometimes for prolonged periods of time, and it’s important to plan how you will stay calm if you’ve tried everything and your baby is still crying. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your baby. Calming activities that can be part of your plan include breathing, going for a walk with your baby and talking to someone.

Early childhood (children 1 to 4 years old)

Motor Vehicle Crashes
Use a forward-facing car seat until the harness no longer fits. The five-point harness will protect small children and keep them in place. Children’s behavior in the car may also become distracting to the driver because they want to ride like older children or get bored.

Supervise children at all time when they are near water. A supervised child is in sight at all times with your undivided attention focused on the child. Don’t leave toys in or near the pool, where they could attract unsupervised kids. For extra protection, consider a pool alarm and alarms on the doors, windows and gates leading to the pool.

Make the kitchen a child-free zone when someone is cooking. Children want to stay close to their parents, but their cognitive skills are not developed to recognize the danger of hot items or control their impulses. As children grow in height, they can reach the counter and front burners, but can’t see what’s in them. A child’s skin burns deeper and quicker at lower temperatures than adult’s skin.

Install stair and door gates. A toddler’s increased mobility and active lifestyle put him/her at risk of falling down a staircase or wandering into areas of the home that are not child-safe.

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