Background: Falls of children from heights (balconies and windows) usually result in severe injuries and death. Details on child falls from heights in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are not easily accessible. Our aim was to assess the incidents, personal, and environmental risk factors for pediatric falls from windows/balconies using newspaper clippings.
Methods: We used a retrospective study design to electronically assess all major UAE national Arabic and English newspapers for reports of unintentional child falls from windows and balconies during 2005-2016. A structured data collection form was developed to collect information. Data were entered into an Excel sheet and descriptive analysis was performed.
Results: Newspaper clippings documented 96 fall incidents. After cleaning the data and excluding duplicate cases and intentional injuries, 81 cases were included into the final analysis. Fifty-three percent (n = 42) were boys. The mean (range) age was 4.9 years (1-15). Thirty-eight (47%) children fell from windows and 36 (44%) from balconies. Twenty-two (27%) children climbed on the furniture placed on a balcony or close to a window. Twenty-five (31%) children were not alone in the apartment when they fell. Twenty-nine children fell from less than 5 floors (37%), 33 from 5 to 10 floors (42%) and 16 from more than 10 floors (21%). Fifteen children (19%) were hospitalized and survived the fall incident, while 66 died (81%).
Conclusions: Newspapers proved to be useful to study pediatric falls from heights. It is necessary to improve window safety by installing window guards and raising awareness.
Keywords: Balconies; Children; Falls from windows; UAE.