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Parents who climb onto the playground slide with their toddlers to help them safely whiz down to the bottom may be putting their child at risk -- and in a cast.
A study at Winthrop University Hospital in Long Island, NY, found that nearly 14 percent of pediatric leg fractures involved toddlers riding down the slide in the lap of a grandparent, parent or baby sitter, according to a report in The New York Times. For kids under age 3, the stats were worse: every slide fracture in that age group was the result of riding to the bottom of a slide in an adult's lap.
The problem? When a child's shoes touch the slide, friction can cause it to get stuck -- not a big deal if your child can just wiggle it loose and keep sliding. But in the lap of an adult, the force of an adult's weight behind little legs can cause a broken bone.
Dr. John Gaffney, a pediatric orthopedic specialist at Winthrop who studied 11 months of the hospital's data to reach his conclusions, says he sees a bump in the injuries as soon as the weather gets warm. "It's so common, but parents say: 'How did I not know about this?'" he told The New York Times. "I thought it was doing something good for my child by having them sit on my lap."
Orthopedic surgeon Ed Holt, M.D., who practices at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, MD, says they usually are extremely painful breaks of the tibia (the shinbone) -- an injury that can land a child in a cast for six weeks or even on an operating table. Dr. Holt created a You Tube video to raise awareness about the injury and explain to parents how this injury can happen. (Watch it below.)
While this news may make you want to bubble wrap your kid, keep in mind that the mistake is an easy one to avoid: Let kids go down the slide alone (and give them common sense advice about playground safety) or hold them by standing on the side of the slide if they need a little help getting down.