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Tough sledding for children.

Tough sledding for children

Coasting down snowy hills is a favorite winter pastime among children. But many parents don't realize the true danger it poses.

Compared to other childhood sports, sledding causes a "very high" incidence of injuries, says pediatrician Robert A. Dershewitz of the Harvard Community Health Plan in Braintree, Mass. Roughly 33,000 U.S. sledding-related injuries occur each year, he says. "I don't think there's an awareness or an appreciation of the danger," he adds.

In the October AMERICAN JOURNAL OF DISEASES OF CHILDREN, Dershewitz and his colleagues report that of 211 sledding injuries involving children and teens treated at 23 Massachusetts hospitals between 1979 and 1982, 192 received care in emergency rooms and 19 required hospitalization. Serious injuries -- concussions, fractures and internal damage -- occurred in 21 percent of the accidents, often as a result of collisions with trees, fences and other fixed objects. Five- to 9-year-olds were hurt most frequently.

Dershewitz says simple safety precautions can prevent sledding accidents without detracting from the fun of the sport. For example, parents should check that the coasting area is not too steep or icy, and is clear of traffic and large obstacles. He also advises that children wear helmets and protective clothing and ride with their heads at the back of the sled.
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Title Annotation:injuries
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 27, 1990
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