Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Study: Rural children are much more likely to be injured by lawn mowers, especially in the South and Midwest

More than 9,000 children in the U.S. are treated in emergency rooms for lawn mower-related injuries; a study suggests that rural children are at the highest risk of getting hurt, especially younger children and those in the South and Midwest, Robert Preidt reports for U.S. News & World Report.

Researchers from the University of Toledo analyzed data on patients under 18 who were seen for lawn mower injuries at 49 U.S. hospitals from 2005 to 2017. "Rural areas had much higher rates of such injuries, younger patients, and higher rates of amputations, surgical complications and infections," Preidt reports.

Rural areas had 7.3 injuries per 100,000 emergency department cases, compared to only 1.5 injuries per 100,000 in urban areas. The South had the highest injury rate (2.7 injuries per 100,000), followed by the Midwest (2.2 per 100,000) and the Northeast (1.3 per 100,000). The West had the lowest rate, 0.6 injuries per 100,000 cases.

Reports of this study, which was presented at a conference, did not link to any publication of it. Left to speculate, we think it's worth considering that rural areas have larger lawns, so homeowners are likely to have larger mowers (and perhaps more children unsafely riding them). And the mowing season in the South and much of the Midwest lasts longer than in other regions.

Preidt reports, "Lawn mower-related injuries in rural areas required longer hospital stays, had higher rates of surgical complications (5.5% vs 2.6%), and occurred in younger patients." Amputation rates for minors with lawn mower-related injuries were 15.5% in rural areas, compared to 9.6% in urban areas. And rural children under age 10 had a higher rate of severe injuries, longer hospital stays, and higher health care costs than older rural minors.

Researcher Ronit Shah, a medical student at the University of Toledo, called for children to receive more education about lawn mower safety, especially in the rural South and Midwest, Preidt reports.

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