Riley Brown, 5, gets ready to the slide at the end of the inflatable bouncy course at a Labor Day picnic in Mansfield Park in Muncie, Ind.(Photo: Kurt Hostetler, AP)
The rate of injuries to children on inflatable bouncers increased
fifteenfold from 1995 to 2010, according to a report Monday in the
The moonwalks, slides and bounce houses
are popular entertainment at young children's birthday parties and
carnivals, but the toll they are taking on the young is "epidemic," says
lead author Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and
Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
2010 alone, 30 children a day were treated for these injuries in
hospital emergency departments, the report says. The number of injuries
increased from 702 in 1995 to 11,311 in 2010. Falls were the most
common cause, followed by stunts and collisions. Smaller children are a
Also among the findings:
- 28% of the children under age 18 were treated at hospitals for fractures.
- 27% had strains or sprains.
- 19% had head and neck injuries.
for the study were obtained from the National Electronic Injury
Surveillance System, operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
The kinds of injuries reported are similar to those
from trampolines, but trampoline injuries are declining, Smith says,
while the increase in injuries from inflatables is "astounding."
safety guidelines exist for trampolines. The report calls for
guidelines for inflatable bouncers, saying it is "clear that it is
Parents can take precautions when allowing children to use
inflatables, says Stacey Palosky of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission. The agency recommends anchoring inflatable products and
preventing older children from jumping at the same time as younger
The surface isn't as soft as it looks, Smith says. The
report did not specify safety suggestions, but Smith says he would not
allow children younger than 6 to play on inflatables. He also recommends
adult supervision and rules preventing rough-housing or stunts such as
flips or somersaults that can damage the spinal cord when the child
lands on the back of his neck or head.
"We don't want to be
alarmists, but parents need to balance the risks with the benefits,''
Smith says. "We need to encourage kids to get off the couch and have an
active lifestyle, but parents can take informed steps to make the