Falling televisions: The hidden danger for children

J Pediatr Surg. 2002 Apr;37(4):572-5. doi: 10.1053/jpsu.2002.31612.


Background/purpose: The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) recently has reported a significant number of injuries and deaths in the home related to televisions (TV) falling on children. To date, little is known regarding the significance of this mechanism of injury in childhood trauma. The current investigation was designed to examine the risk factors, spectrum of injuries, and operative intervention required in children injured by falling televisions.

Methods: The records of all patients 0 to 16 years of age with television-related injuries and entered in the Pennsylvania Trauma Outcome Study (PTOS) between 1989 and 1999 were reviewed. The authors examined Glascow coma scale (GCS), injury severity score (ISS), length of hospital stay (LOS), major injuries sustained, and operative procedures performed. Fourteen of the children in the PTOS were seen at the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Center at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. In these 14 children, a review of the medical records was performed for a detailed description of the accident scenario.

Results: Forty-three children sustained television-related injuries during this period. Nearly 56% of these children were </= years; 60% were boys. The mortality rate was 11% with 80% of the deaths occurring in children </= years. Furthermore, these children sustained the highest ISS and LOS and lowest GCS. The majority of injuries sustained were head injuries followed by extremity fractures. Dressers and standard television stands were common supportive structures from which the television fell and injured the child.

Conclusions: These data show that the majority of television-related injuries occur in toddlers (1 to 3 years) who were left unattended at home. The mortality rate was surprisingly high, especially in children </= years from subsequent head injuries. Prevention focused on improved public awareness of this danger, and modified design of the standard support structures can decrease the number of injuries, which will benefit children overall.

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention
  • Accidents, Home / mortality*
  • Accidents, Home / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Care / standards
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / etiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / mortality
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / surgery
  • Female
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Television*
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / etiology
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / mortality
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / surgery