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Media Contact:

Lisa Black

New research to be presented at the 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition finds that going down a slide on a parent's lap increases the risk of leg fractures.

CHICAGO—Going down a slide on a parent's lap can lead to a broken leg for small children. An estimated 352,698 children less than 6 years of age were injured on slides in the United States from 2002 through 2015, and many of those injuries were leg fractures.

The study abstract, "The Mechanisms and Injuries Associated with Playground Slides in Young Children: Increased Risk of Lower Extremity Injuries with Riding on Laps," will be presented Monday, Sept. 18, at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

New research looks at the nature of injuries young children experience on playground slides. Of those under 6 years old, toddlers age 12-23 months had the highest percentage of injuries. The most common injury overall was a fracture at 36 percent, usually involving the lower leg. In the majority of cases, this type of fractures happens when the child's foot catches the edge or bottom of the slide, then twists and bends backward while sitting on a parent's lap.

"Many parents and caregivers go down a slide with a young child on their lap without giving it a second thought," states lead researcher Charles Jennissen, MD, FAAP, Clinical Professor and Pediatric Emergency Medicine Staff Physician, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. "And in most cases I have seen, the parents had no idea that doing so could possibly give their child such a significant injury. They often say they would never have done it had they known."

The size and weight of adults apparently plays a big role in the potential for injury. Jennissen says that a young child sliding by themselves is unlikely to get a severe injury to their leg even if the foot catches due to the relatively low forces involved. However, he states that the force generated by the forward momentum of an adult with a child on their lap is much greater, and can easily break a bone if a child's foot gets caught on the slide.

The study's researchers recommend that adults and teens not go down a slide with a young child on their lap. They state that parents and caregivers who elect to do so must use extreme caution to prevent the child's foot from catching on the slide's surfaces.

Jennissen will present the abstract, available below, on Monday, Sept.18, from 5:10 p.m. to 6 p.m. CT in McCormick Place West, Room S106. To request an interview with Dr. Jennissen, contact Cheryl Hodgson,, 319-353-7193.

In addition, highlighted abstract authors will available to the media from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. during an informal Media Meet-and-Greet session Saturday, September 16, from 12:15-1:15 p.m. CT in the Grant Park CD room at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place (Press Office).

Please note: only the abstract is being presented at the meeting. In some cases, the researcher may have more data available to share with media, or may be preparing a longer article for submission to a journal.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit

Abstract Title: The Mechanisms and Injuries Associated with Playground Slides in Young Children: Increased Risk of Lower Extremity Injuries with Riding on Laps

Purpose: Playground slides continue to be a popular apparatus for childhood play and a frequent cause of childhood injury. Few studies have examined the mechanisms and injuries associated with slide-related injuries in the preschool child. The purpose of this study was to better understand the factors associated with slide-related injuries in young children.

Methods: Playground slide injuries in children 5 years of age and younger from 2002-2015 were identified (N=12,686) using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a system that prospectively collects injury data from a stratified sampling of emergency departments from across the nation. Those injured were categorized by age, and descriptive and comparative analyses were performed.

Results: An estimated 352,698 children less than 6 years of age were injured on slides in the United States during the study period. Overall, 59% were male. The age group with the highest percentage of injured children (22%) was 12-23 months. Significant differences among various age groups were noted by sex and race of patient, injury diagnosis and affected body part (all p < 0.001). The most frequent diagnosis was a fracture (36%) which may be underestimated due to occult fractures, especially of the tibia (Toddler's fractures). Lacerations were 19% of the injuries. Overall, the affected body part was the lower extremity in 26% of those injured. The younger the age group of the child, the higher the percentages of injuries involving the lower extremity and of children noted to be on the lap of another person at the time of the injury (both p < 0.001). For narratives mentioning that the child was on a person's lap, the injuries involved the lower extremity in 94% (577/614), with the vast majority involving the lower leg (tibia).

Conclusions: The majority of injuries sustained on slides by infants and young toddlers are lower extremity fractures and sliding down on another person's lap is the primary cause of these injuries. Parents should be aware of the risk that a child's lower extremity can catch the side of a slide when going down on a person's lap, and that the potential twisting force on the child's lower extremity may cause a tibia fracture. We recommend that young children not go down a slide on another person's lap. Families should be counseled that if they elect to do so, extreme caution is necessary to avoid the child catching their foot on the slide surfaces.