Bicycle helmets are protective against facial injuries, including facial fractures: a meta-analysis

Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2018 Sep;47(9):1121-1125. doi: 10.1016/j.ijom.2018.03.005. Epub 2018 Apr 3.


Cycling is a popular activity. However there are risks associated with cycling, including facial injury. Helmets are often worn to prevent head injury. Evidence for their protection against facial injury is limited. This meta-analysis investigated the effect of bicycle helmets on the incidence of facial injury. The PubMed/MEDLINE, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Library databases were searched. Studies included were observational and involved adult participants. Paediatric studies, studies on helmet legislation, and those combining facial injuries with other injury types were excluded. The studies were evaluated by two reviewers. Risk of bias was assessed using the RevMan bias assessment tool. Odds ratios (OR) were extracted for facial injuries and facial fractures. Two meta-analyses were performed using these categories. Nine of the 102 studies identified were included. Helmets were protective against facial injury (OR 0.69, 95% confidence interval 0.63-0.75, P<0.0001). Five studies reported facial fracture rates; helmets were protective against these also (OR 0.79 95% confidence interval 0.70-0.90, P=0.0003). There are no randomized controlled trials on this topic and the number of studies available is small. Bicycle helmets offer protection against facial injuries and this should be considered by cyclists when deciding whether or not to use one.

Keywords: bicycle; fracture; helmet; injury; prevention.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling / injuries*
  • Facial Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Head Protective Devices*
  • Humans
  • Skull Fractures / prevention & control*