The study supports the American Academy of Pediatricians' (AAP) earlier call to ban baby walkers in the United States that are blamed for injuring more than 2,000 children each year.
"It's been a risk-reduction approach, not a risk-elimination approach," said report co-author Gary A. Smith, who also directs the Centre for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Baby walkers, infant walkers, or mobile walkers are used to help infants walk before they are able to fully walk on their own. The infant is placed in a suspended seat that is attached to a base with wheels. Supported by the walker, the infant can then walk around.
Legislation Reduces InjuryTwo changes to legislation have already reduced the number of baby walker injuries significantly.
These two pieces of legislation have led to dramatic drops in the number of walker-related injuries, said Smith.
Shift in the Type of InjuriesWhile incidents of falling down stairs have dropped, the study shows that from 2010 onwards, other types of injuries became a greater cause for concern.
"We're going to start to see the injuries plateau," said Smith, "and those proximity injuries aren't going to be solved by the current strategy."
In one case recorded by NEISS in October 2017, a 13-month-old girl sitting in a walker pulled the cord of a rice cooker, causing the cooker to fall. Hot rice landed on her, and she arrived at the hospital emergency room with severe burns on her abdomen, thighs, hands, and wrist.
In another case, an 8-month-old girl fell 11 steps in her walker during May 2017 while a 10-month-old boy fell 12 steps n August the same year. Both children fractured their skulls.
"When you talk to parents, they blame themselves," Smith said. "They don't blame the walker."
"They just bought the myth that these things are safe if used correctly, but they're not. They're inherently dangerous."
As an alternative to baby walkers Smith suggests using stationary activity centers, which resemble baby walkers without wheels.