The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, based in Bethesda, Maryland, recently analyzed the frequency of emergency department – treated injuries associated with shopping carts to children younger than the age of five. You might be surprised to learn that the annual average number of such injuries was 21,600! From 2008 to 2012, the study estimated 107,300 children under the age of five sustained an injury requiring at least emergency room treatment as a result of a shopping cart injury. The majority of these injuries occurred to 1 to 2-year-old children, representing approximately 60% of the total estimated injuries during this time period, with two-year-olds leaving the pack with 34,100 of the injuries. A large majority – 84% – of these injuries were sustained in falls from carts. Other hazards included tip over, collision, contact, entrapment or incidental.

The study determined that the majority of injuries occurred to the head and/or face, accounting for 85% of injuries. A closer look at the nature of these injuries revealed that 44% involved internal organ injuries, meaning a head injury, and 24% involved contusions or abrasions. Those two categories accounted for 72% of all injuries. Fortunately, the majority of the injured children were treated and released following emergency room evaluation and care, while only 4% were hospitalized or held for observation. Those children who were hospitalized generally sustained fractures (50% of all hospitalizations) or head injuries (41% of all hospitalizations).  

The lesson to be learned from these startling statistics is to exercise great care with your young children when placing them in a shopping cart. Children between the ages of one and two are at the greatest risk, and the likeliest injury is a head injury, which can have catastrophic consequences in young children. Don’t use a cart that doesn’t offer a restraint to hold your child in place, because falling from the cart is far and away (85%) the most likely cause of injury from a shopping cart incident.