Promote Safety Helmet Use Among Children
By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released recommendations that encourage everyone, especially children and teens, to wear an appropriate safety helmet when participating in recreational sports.
Citing previous research, the AAP noted that among children and teens age 5 through 17 years, 31% reported never wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle. In another survey of people age 18 years and younger, 52% of those injured while snowboarding or skateboarding said they were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Thus, failure to follow safety precautions leads to an estimated 26,000 annual visits to the emergency department for sports-related head injuries, including traumatic brain injury.
“The evidence is clear: helmets save lives and significantly reduce the risks of severe injury,” said Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH, FAAP, lead author of the statement, written by the AAP Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. “Yet sports-related injuries make up a substantial proportion of all traumatic brain injuries. As a pediatric emergency medicine physician, I advise all my patients — and their parents — to wear helmets.”
Lee and colleagues recommended everyone wear a helmet that fits properly and has been designed for the designated activity, including but not limited to snowboarding, bike riding, ice skating, and equestrian events. Parents can serve as good role models for their kids by wearing helmets.
AAP called for pediatricians to educate young patients and their caregivers about the importance of wearing a helmet. Also, policymakers should consider implementing consistent laws on par with safety restraints in motor vehicles. Lee and colleagues reported that as of 2022, 21 states and the District of Columbia have instituted bicycle helmet laws that apply to citizens younger than age 17 years, but age requirements differ depending on the state or district.
“Research on the epidemiology of recreational sports injuries, prevalence of helmet use, and effective interventions to increase helmet use will be important to inform future injury prevention efforts,” the authors concluded.