Page last updated at 06:17 GMT, Tuesday, 9 June 2009 07:17 UK

Home computer injuries are rife

Infant using a computer
Under 5s had the highest injury rate

Home computer-related injuries have increased more than sevenfold, with children hurt most often, data reveal.

Over 78,000 patients were treated for such injuries in US hospitals between 1994 and 2006, and 93% of the trips, bumps and falls occurred in the home.

Over the 13-year study period the injury rate increased by 732%, which is more than double the increase in household computer ownership.

The findings appear in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Children under five had the highest injury rate, mainly due to falls after tripping over cables or head injuries from falling monitors.

Make sure computers are well-positioned so they cannot be pulled over by inquisitive children
A spokesman from Rospa

Similarly, in the UK computer-related accidents in the home sharply increased from around 800 in 1995 to more than 1,800 in 1999 and 2,100 in 2002 - the latest figures available.

A third of the incidents in 2002 involved a child under the age of 15, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa).

Although most result in minor bumps and bruises, some injuries can be more serious.

One case in 1998 involved a six-year-old boy who was burned by a fire caused by spilling a drink on a computer.


Lead researcher of the US study, Dr Lara McKenzie of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Center for Injury Research and Policy in Columbus, said: "Future research on acute computer-related injuries is needed as this ubiquitous product becomes more intertwined in our everyday lives."

She said more information was needed on the types of computers and equipment used, the layout of these systems, and the furniture used to store them in order to develop household-safety practices in this area.

"Given the large increase in acute computer-related injuries over the study period, greater efforts are needed to prevent such injuries, especially among young children."

A Rospa spokesman said: "Whenever a piece of equipment or activity such as home-computing becomes more popular, the number of people being injured in related accidents does tend to increase.

"In fact, we noticed a particular rise in computer-related home accidents towards the end of the 1990s as computers became 'must have' items.

"Accidents always happen more easily when you're rushing, so if you're carrying a computer do take care to look where you're going and don't try to lift too much equipment in one go.

"Make sure computers are well-positioned so they cannot be pulled over by inquisitive children. And, as with all types of electrical equipment, watch out for trailing cables."

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