Lawn Mowers May Be Even More Dangerous for Rural Kids

Lawn Mowers May Be Even More Dangerous for Rural Kids

Lawnmowers are always a hazard around children, but a new study suggests that kids in rural areas are at the highest risk.

Each year, more than 9,000 children in the United States are treated in emergency departments for lawn mower-related injuries.

"Despite efforts within the health community to highlight how easily children can be injured by lawn mowers, we still see thousands of children in emergency departments each year for lawn mower-related injuries," said researcher Ronit Shah, a medical student at the University of Toledo in Ohio.

In this study, researchers analyzed data on patients under the age of 18 with lawn mower-related injuries who were seen at 49 U.S. hospitals from 2005 to 2017.

Rural areas had much higher rates of such injuries, younger patients, and higher rates of amputations, surgical complications and infections.

Injury rates were 7.3 injuries per 100,000 cases in rural areas, compared with 1.5 injuries per 100,000 cases in urban areas.

By region, the highest injury rate was in the South (2.7 injuries per 100,000 cases), followed by the Midwest (2.2 injuries per 100,000 cases) and the Northeast (1.3 injuries per 100,000 cases). The Western United States had the lowest rate at 0.6 injuries per 100,000 cases.

Lawn mower-related injuries in rural areas required longer hospital stays, had higher rates of surgical complications (5.5% vs 2.6%), and occurred in younger patients.

Amputation rates were 15.5% in rural areas and 9.6% in urban areas, with rural patients being 1.7 times more likely to have an amputation.

In rural areas, children younger than 10 had a higher rate of more severe injuries, longer hospital stays, and greater health care costs than children older than 10.

The findings will be presented by researchers on Sunday at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting, in New Orleans. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"Our research shows young children in rural areas are more likely to be severely hurt," Shah said in an academy news release.

More public education about children and lawn mower safety is needed and "should be specifically targeted for rural communities, especially in the Southern and Midwestern United States," he added.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, Oct. 25, 2019.

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