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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2009 Dec;25(12):819-22. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3181c33109.

Holiday ornament-related injuries in children.

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  • 1Division of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Children's Hospital Boston, 300 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Holiday ornament injuries in children have not been well documented in the medical literature. Our aim was to investigate the patterns of injuries sustained from these ornaments as a first measure toward prevention.


This was a retrospective cohort analysis of all patients examined in an urban pediatric emergency department over a 13-year period ending in March 2008 for holiday ornament-related injuries. Cases were identified using a computer-assisted text query followed by a manual chart review. Data collected from each chart included the child's age, sex, injury characteristics, physical examination findings, radiographic imaging, interventions, and disposition. To analyze injury rates over the years, we used a multiplicative Poisson model allowing varying exposures.


Over the study period, we identified 76 eligible patients. The median age was 2 years (interquartile range, 1.17-3.3 years); 44.7% were female. Forty-three of the 76 cases (53.9%) involved ingestions: 35 were of holiday ornaments, and 8 were of light bulbs. All but one of these ornaments were made of glass. In 28%, there was an associated bleed either from the mouth or as a delayed gastrointestinal bleed. Other patients experienced lacerations (27.6%), eye injuries (5.1%), and minor electrocution injury (2.5%). Imaging was performed in 85%. A subspecialty consult was obtained in 23%, primarily addressing a foreign body ingestion or removal after skin exploration. The incidence rate has not changed over the years.


Holiday ornament-related injuries primarily involve foreign body ingestions and glass-related injuries. Over half of the injuries involved small light bulbs and ornaments made of glass placed at the level a toddler can reach. Pediatricians are advised to discuss these points with families during holiday season.

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