Preventing childhood falls within the home: overview of systematic reviews and a systematic review of primary studies

Accid Anal Prev. 2013 Nov:60:158-71. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Aug 16.


In most countries falls are the most common medically attended childhood injury and the majority of injuries in pre-school children occur at home. Numerous systematic reviews have reviewed evidence of the effectiveness of falls prevention interventions, but this evidence has not been synthesised into an overview, making it difficult for policy makers and practitioners to easily access the evidence. To synthesise all available evidence, we conducted an overview of reviews of home safety interventions targeting childhood falls, extracted data from primary studies included in the reviews and supplemented this with a systematic review of primary studies published subsequent to the reviews. Bibliographic databases, websites, conference proceedings, journals and bibliographies of included studies were searched for systematic reviews of studies with experimental or controlled observational designs. Thirteen reviews were identified containing 24 primary studies. Searches for additional primary studies identified five further studies not included in reviews. Evidence of the effect of interventions on falls or fall injuries was sparse, with only one of three primary studies reporting this outcome finding a reduction in falls. Interventions were effective in promoting the use of safety gates and furniture corner covers. There was some evidence of a reduction in baby walker use. The effect on the use of window safety devices, non-slip bath mats/decals and the reduction of tripping hazards was mixed. There was limited evidence that interventions were effective in improving lighting in corridors, altering furniture layout and restricting access to roofs. Most interventions to prevent childhood falls at home have not been evaluated in terms of their effect on reducing falls. Policy makers and practitioners should promote use of safety gates and furniture covers and restriction of baby walker use. Further research evaluating the effect of interventions to reduce falls and falls-related injuries is urgently required.

Keywords: Children; Falls; Home; Prevention; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention / instrumentation
  • Accident Prevention / methods*
  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Accidents, Home / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Protective Devices