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Surge in Child ATV Injuries Likely Lined to Pandemic
USAgNet - 08/07/2020

The typical summer surge in all-terrain vehicle injuries kicked off early this year, as children were out of school due to COVID-19 and parents struggled with child care and working from home.

"When school went out and kids were at home, we saw more injuries in general," said Dr. Charles Jennissen, a pediatric emergency physician and clinical professor in the departments of pediatric and emergency medicine at University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine. There were more bike injuries and ATV injuries, he said, noting the number and types of injuries were more like summertime.

Jennissen and colleagues in the Injury Free Coalition for Kids started a collaborative study to compare injuries during COVID-19 to a year ago. "Clearly, we are seeing more injuries, including of ATVs," Jennissen said. Overall injuries are probably four to five times higher because many don't go to the ER, he added. In the US, about 40,000 children under the age of 16 are treated in emergency departments for ATV-related injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Sometimes, those injuries are fatal. In late March, a 5-year-old Alabama boy was riding ATVs with his older brother on the family farm. The older brother noticed his little brother was no longer behind him. He went back and found the younger boy unconscious in a pond. He later died.

It was one of 10 incidents involving children and ATVs recorded in from March 1 through July 15. Five were fatal., which began as a project within the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, is an open-access online database that catalogs adult- and child-related agricultural injury reports from media and other sources. The database was used in a recent review of ATV and other off-road vehicle incidents published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research Public Health and Surveillance.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 16 not operate ATVs. All-terrain vehicles with a saddle-seat and handle bars are relatively unsteady. They have a high center of gravity and narrow track, a combination that makes them a very high risk for rolling over, Jennissen said. They often have low-pressure tires that have knobby treads designed to grab off-road terrain.

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