For many parents, baby walkers are an aid to help their little ones scoot around before they can do it totally on their own. But the head of an American Academy of Pediatrics injuries committee tells NPR the walkers are "inherently dangerous objects that have no benefit whatsoever," and that he thinks they should be banned. Dr. Benjamin Hoffman's remarks represent a reinvigorated movement to stop the manufacture and sale of the wheeled walkers in the US, and that mission is backed by a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The study found that, between 1990 and 2014, more than 230,000 kids younger than 15 months ended up in ERs after using a walker. More than 90% of the injuries were to the head and neck, CBS News notes. "There's absolutely no reason these products should still be on the market," study author Gary Smith tells NPR.
The reason they've been deemed a hazard is that little ones can zip along at too-fast speeds: One estimate says they can propel themselves 4 feet in just one second, meaning they may end up in dangerous situations before adults can catch up, like falling down stairs, burning themselves by pulling pots off of stoves, and plummeting into pools. Federal safety standards, including walker brakes, put into place eight years ago led to a big drop in injury numbers—a 23% decrease in the four years after the standards were implemented—but researchers say people may also not be using walkers as much anymore, and that thousands of kids still get hurt each year. "Despite the decline in injuries, infant walkers remain an important and preventable source of injury among young children," the study notes. (Ikea dressers have been a safety hazard for kids.)