The slippery dip danger parents are unaware of

It's best to be cautious.
It's best to be cautious. Photo: Shutterstock

Parents, stop sliding down slippery dips while holding your kids. That's the conclusion of a new study, which found that kids who use a slide while seated on their parents' lap, are at increased risk of fracturing their lower leg.

And it's not an uncommon occurrence, either.

According to the research, due to be presented at the 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition this week, 352,698 children under the age of six, were injured on slides in the US between 2005 - 2015. Children aged between one and two years were at the highest risk of injury - and lower leg fractures were the most common.

"The majority of injuries sustained on slides by infants and young toddlers are lower extremity fractures and sliding down on another person's lap is the primary cause of these injuries," the authors note. Fractures usually occurred when a child's foot caught the edge or bottom of the slide, twisted and bent backward, while sitting on mum or dad's lap.

"Many parents and caregivers go down a slide with a young child on their lap without giving it a second thought," lead researcher Charles Jennissen said in a statement. "In most cases I have seen, the parents had no idea that doing so could possibly give their child such a significant injury. They often say they would never have done it had they known."

The research team examined data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which collates information from emergency department admissions across the US. While fractures were the most common injury, lacerations followed at 19 per cent. Of those injured, 59 per cent were boys.

"The younger the age group of the child, the higher the percentages of injuries involving the lower extremity and of children noted to be on the lap of another person at the time of the injury," the authors write of their findings. "Parents should be aware of the risk that a child's lower extremity can catch the side of a slide when going down on a person's lap, and that the potential twisting force on the child's lower extremity may cause a tibia fracture."

As such, the authors recommend that young children do not go down a slide while sitting on another person's lap." "Families should be counselled that if they elect to do so, extreme caution is necessary to avoid the child catching their foot on the slide surfaces."

It's not the first time such a recommendation has been made. Authors of a 2009 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics, which specifically explored children's tibia fractures sustained on playground slides, noted: "Many parents believe they are increasing the safety of their young child by placing the child on their lap while going down a playground slide. Parents should be educated not to go down a slide with a child on their lap. If the child is unable to use the slide independently, another activity would be more appropriate."

It's something Sydney mum Monique Smith, experienced firsthand, when her one-year-old son, Maxwell, broke his leg, going down a slide, while seated on her lap. Speaking to Fairfax Media in 2015, Mrs Smith shared that the sole of her little one's foot got caught on the slide, fracturing his leg.

"It didn't even get stuck completely, but it was just hard enough that with me coming down behind him it pushed his leg enough to fracture his tibia," Mrs Smith said.

"I felt terrible, I had no idea what we were doing could be dangerous, but the orthopaedic doctor we saw said it happens all the time."