A retrospective benefit-cost analysis of the 1997 stair-fall requirements for baby walkers

Accid Anal Prev. 2008 Jan;40(1):61-8. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2007.04.003. Epub 2007 May 4.


Based on estimates from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were about 25,000 baby walker-related injuries treated annually in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the early 1990s. This amounted to about 8 injuries for every 1000 baby walkers in use. Most injuries resulted from falls down stairs. After CPSC initiated a regulatory proceeding in 1994, the CPSC staff worked with industry to address the stair-fall hazard. This cooperative effort resulted in requirements designed to prevent stair-fall injuries that became effective in 1997 as part of a revised voluntary safety standard. This study presents a retrospective benefit-cost analysis of the 1997 stair-fall requirements. The benefits were defined as the reduction in the costs of injuries resulting from the use of the safer walkers. The costs were defined as the additional resource costs associated with making baby walkers safer. The study found that the stair-fall requirements were highly effective in reducing the risk of stair-fall injury, and that the benefits of the requirements substantially exceeded the costs. The expected net benefits (i.e., benefits minus costs) amounted to an average of about $169 per walker, over the walker's expected product life. Given current U.S. sales of about 600,000 baby walkers annually, the present value of the expected net benefits associated with 1 year's production amounts to over $100 million annually. A sensitivity analysis showed that the major findings were robust with respect to variations in underlying assumptions.

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention / economics*
  • Accident Prevention / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Accidental Falls / economics
  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Consumer Product Safety / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Health Resources / economics
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Equipment / economics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States
  • Wounds and Injuries / economics
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*