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ARCHIVED - Injury Data Analysis Leads to Baby Walker Ban

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Two babies crawling on a carpet and playing with blocks.Thanks to data collected and analyzed by Health Canada scientists, the federal government determined that baby walkers are unsafe, and in April 2004 banned the sale of baby walkers in Canada.

Paediatricians, child safety advocates and others believed that the dangers baby walkers presented far surpassed their usefulness, and had campaigned for this ban for years. Canada took the international lead on this ban, taking a positive step towards the safety of children around the world.

Typically, incidents linked to baby walkers involve head injuries that result from falls down stairs. However, other injuries occur when the child in the baby walker is able to reach dangerous objects that are otherwise inaccessible.

Injury Reports Contribute to Ban

For Michel Baillot, Project Officer at Health Canada's Mechanical and Electrical Division of Consumer Product Safety, this is the culmination of more than three years' work. He was assisted by AndrÚ St-Laurent, Reid Campbell and George Bonavia. The evidence they presented, combined with prior consultation, allowed these regulatory amendments to be accelerated.

The decision to ban baby walkers resulted from scientific analysis of data collected through Health Canada's Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP).

CHIRPP is a computerized information system that collects and analyzes data on injuries and poisonings from the emergency departments of 16 hospitals across Canada. The patterns of injury occurrence observed can help to identify hazards and high-risk situations, resulting in timely warnings to the public, education of parents and caregivers, and changes to legislation.

The CHIRPP database revealed that between April 1990 and April 2002, there were 1,935 baby walker injuries reported among children aged 5 - 14 months.