A noticeable increase in the number of youngsters hurting themselves in falls has caught the attention of the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.
In 2016, 594 children six years of age and under were evaluated in local hospitals after taking a tumble. This compares with 441 in 2007.
The health unit doesn’t understand why, but injury from falls involving youngsters is a more serious problem in Haldimand and Norfolk per capita than the rest of the province.
In response, the health unit will divert resources from its vehicle safety seat program to fall prevention.
In a presentation to the Haldimand and Norfolk Board of Health last week, health promoter Karen Marks noted that seven local agencies have worked with the health unit in recent years on child vehicle safety.
This includes the Haldimand OPP, the Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk, and Haldimand-Norfolk REACH.
“When we looked into child fall prevention, there was no one taking care of that,” Marks said. “As you can see, the child safety seat program is in good hands.”
Children can seriously hurt themselves when they fall.
Local emergency wards regularly treat broken bones, lacerations and concussions. The health unit will get out the message that parents need to child-proof their homes.
This includes gates screwed to the wall to bar access to stairs, whether they lead upstairs or down to the basement.
The health unit also wants to get out the message that toddlers are top-heavy. When they are learning to walk, Marks said a toddler should never be more than arm’s-length from an adult.
“Haldimand and Norfolk counties have a significantly higher percentage of falls-related emergency department visits for children under six years of age when compared to the rest of Ontario,” Kathy Heffer, manager of the health unit’s maternal and child health team, says in a report.
“Staff also examined other causes for child injury. When compared to the rest of Ontario, Haldimand and Norfolk did not have significantly different rates of on-road injury, poisoning, burns and scald-related emergency department visits.”
The education campaign will tell new parents what to expect as the mobility of their children increases. The focus will be on vulnerabilities and what parents can do to mitigate them.
As bad as the local statistics are, some on the board of health suspect it is a lot worse.
“I would imagine there are a lot of falls that haven’t been reported,” Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus said.