Doctors draw attention to helmet hanging risk
Four pathologists have written to The Medical Journal of Australia about their in
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Across the world the deaths of a number of young children have been attributed to their wearing of cycle helmets. The most usual cause of death has been strangulation.The children were not cycling when the tragedies occurred, but it is common for children at play to swap between activities without changing what they wear.
Four pathologists writing in The Medical Journal of Australia say that "Accidental hanging is still occurring among young children who wear bicycle helmets while engaging in activities other than bicycle riding. … Although such deaths are rare, it is important for parents and child carers to ensure that bicycle helmets are only worn by children for their intended purpose." (Byard, Cala, Ritchey and Woodford, 2011)
In absolute terms, the risk of death through wearing a helmet is very small. The information is significant mainly in the context that it is the only unambiguous evidence showing any relationship between fatalities and cycle helmet use. Fatalities are recorded comprehensively and accurately in most countries, but there is no statistically reliable evidence across any population of fewer deaths as helmet use has increased. A doctor in Sweden lamented, with regard to strangulations in that country and its child helmet law, "We know we have killed, but we can't show we have saved anyone". (Sweden, 1)
This information is presented here solely as a record of fact.
|2011||Sweden||Boy, 3 years||Helmet caught in tree
(NB: Hockey helmet but of a type often used for cycling)
|2010||USA||Boy, 3 years||Helmet caught on backyard swingset||KTRV-TV, 2010
|2010||Norway||Girl, 3 years||Helmet stuck in tree while girl playing in kindergarden||Sweden, 2
|2009||Australia||Boy, 5/6 years||Hanged from an overhead clothesline while jumping on a trampoline||SMH, 2009
|2008||USA||Boy||Strangled. More details unknown.
|2007||Australia||Boy, 3 years||Suspended by his helmet strap when he tried to climb out of a home window||Adelaide Now, 2007
|2003||Australia||Boy, 2 years||Suspended by his helmet strap between a bunk bed and a wall||ABC, 2004b
|1999||USA||Boy, 3 years
||Asphyxiated while wearing a bicycle helmet and playing on playground equipment. Caught between two overlapping horizontal platforms when his helmet would not fit through the gap between them where his body had already gone.||BHSI, 2
||Girl, 7 years||Hanged when helmets entrapped in opening in playground structure.|
|1984 to 1992||Sweden & Norway||6 incidents||6 cases of asphyxiation by helmet straps when the helmets caught in Swedish or Norwegian playground equipment. All boys under 6 years. 30 further non-fatal cases
Ambulance staff cleared over toddler's death. ABC News, 7 May 2004.
Helmet strangles boy, 3. Adelaide Now, 4 Apr 2007.
Martin ströps – av sin hjälm. Aftonbladet, 7 Jun 2011.
Playgrounds and helmets don't mix. Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.
Byard RW, Cala A, Ritchey D, Woodford N., 2011. Bicycle helmets and accidental asphyxia in childhood. Medical Journal of Australia MJA 2011;194(1):49.
Bike helmets on playgrounds. US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Tragic accident claims young boy's life. KTRV-TV, Nov 10 2010.
Boy, 6, strangled in freak trampoline accident. Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Jul 2009.
Swedish Helmet Initiative. Associated conference to the 3rd International Conference on Injury Prevention and Control. .
Sykkelhjelm årsak til dødsulykke. Barnehage. 17 Apr 2010.