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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 06:57 GMT
Reading 'cuts childhood injuries'
Harry Potter
Children's fascination with the boy wizard kept them out of trouble
An upsurge in interest in reading among children is preventing them from suffering accidents, researchers say.

Doctors at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford looked at the number of children attending casualty on weekends when Harry Potter books were launched.

They found that only 36 children needed treatment compared with an average of 67 children on other weekends.

The doctors said while reading did keep children away from dangerous games it could lead to an increase in obesity.

Injury prevention

The researchers looked at the weekends of Saturday, 21 June, 2003 and Saturday, 16 July this year - the launch dates of the two most recent Harry Potter books, The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince.

The authors of the study suggested that encouraging more book reading might be a useful way to combat childhood accidents.

"It may.. be hypothesised that there is a place for a committee of safety conscious, talented writers who could produce high quality books for the purpose of injury prevention," they wrote in the British Medical Journal.

However they acknowledged there could be a downside to a strategy that seeks to turn active children into bookworms.

Potential problems could include "an unpredictable increase in childhood obesity, rickets and loss of cardiovascular fitness".




BBC NEWS:VIDEO AND AUDIO
Doctor explains how Harry Potter keeps kids safe



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