Children frequently injure themselves falling down stairways, but the characteristics of these injuries are not well described. A total of 363 consecutive patients seen in a pediatric emergency department were studied. The majority of patients had minor superficial injuries. Bony injuries occurred in 7% of patients. Head and neck injuries occurred in 73% of patients, extremity injuries, which were predominantly distal, in 28%, and truncal injuries in 2%. Children younger than 4 years of age were more likely to sustain head trauma than children older than 4 years of age (P < .005). Injury to more than one body part occurred in only 2.7% of patients. Children who fell down more than four steps had no greater number or severity of injury than those who fell down less than four steps (P = .67). Patients were admitted to hospitals in 3% of cases. No patient had life-threatening injuries and no patients required intensive care. When multiple, severe, truncal, or proximal extremity injuries are noted in a patient who reportedly fell down stairs, a different mechanism of injury should be suspected.
- Received October 15, 1987.
- Accepted December 22, 1987.
- Copyright © 1988 by the American Academy of Pediatrics