U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health News, Health Headlines (OWH)
April 30, 2013
Young children are at high risk for accidentally strangling themselves with window blind cords and parents need to be aware of this threat, doctors report.
Children aged 16 to 36 months seem particularly vulnerable to this danger, because they have relatively large heads compared with the rest of their bodies as well as softer windpipes, the doctors noted. They also have less muscle control than adults, which makes it harder for them to disentangle themselves from the cords.
The British doctors wrote their warning, published online April 29 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, after they treated a 22-month-old boy who was brought into the emergency department after being found hanging on the pull chain of a window blind cord.
The child was discharged after an overnight stay in hospital, but not every child in this type of situation is so lucky, the doctors noted.
"In the U.K., it is thought that one or two young children die each year from blind cord strangulation," they wrote. "It is believed that there are probably many more under-reported near misses."
Data indicates that more than 200 infants and young children in the United States have died from accidental strangulation in window blind cords, Dr. Manas Datta, from the department of pediatrics at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, said in a journal news release.
The British Blind and Shutter Association and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents recommend installing cordless blinds, short pull cords, using safety devices and keeping children's beds away from blind cords.
The best option would be a ban on looped window blind cords, the doctors said. Until that happens, "it is imperative that parents are educated about the hazards of window blind cords and appropriate safety devices are installed in homes with young children," they concluded.