Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2012 Oct;73(4 Suppl 3):S254-7. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31826b017c.

Falls in children birth to 5 years: different mechanisms lead to different injuries.

Author information

Division of Emergency Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, USA.



Falls are the most common cause of injury-related hospitalization in children younger than 5 years old. Most anticipatory guidance surrounding falls is around falls from windows or stairs; however, falls from furniture also are important causes of morbidity. The purpose of this study was to compare the number of children injured, ages of injured children, and injuries sustained in falls from furniture and falls from stairs in hospitalized children younger than 5 years.


All records of individuals from 0 year through 4 years, hospitalized at our institution for a fall from furniture or stairs between January 1, 1996, and December 31, 2006, were retrospectively reviewed. A standard data set was abstracted from each chart. Frequencies were used to characterize the study population. χ and t tests were used to determine differences between groups.


A total of 171 patients were hospitalized for falls from stairs and 318 for falls from furniture. There were no differences between the groups with regard to age, sex, race, type of insurance, length of stay, Injury Severity Score, or total cost. The most common pieces of furniture from which children fell were beds (33.0%), couches (18.9%), and chairs (17.9%). Children who fell from stairs were significantly more likely to have injuries to their head (64.3% vs. 38.1%); those that fell from furniture were more likely to sustain arm injuries (33.3% vs. 9.9%). There were significantly more skull fractures in those that fell from stairs (39.8% vs. 20.1%) and humerus fractures in those that fell from furniture (30.8% vs. 9.4%) (p < 0.001). Falls from furniture increased during the study period, while falls from stairs fell; the difference was not statistically significant, however.


Falls from furniture and stairs are important causes of morbidity in children. More children were hospitalized for falls from furniture than from stairs. Falls down stairs are decreasing while falls off furniture are increasing. More anticipatory guidance should be developed and given to families regarding falls from furniture to help prevent these injuries.


Prognostic/epidemiologic study, level III.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Support Center