New safety regulations reduced injuries requiring treatment for children, study suggests

(Embargoed) CHAPEL HILL -- Regulations North Carolina adopted in 1996 to improve safety on daycare playgrounds appear to have contributed to fewer injuries serious enough to send children to doctors or hospitals across the state, according to a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study.

The study, commissioned by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Division of Child Development and conducted by UNC School of Public Health faculty, documented a 22 percent decline in the estimated rate of serious injuries between 1997 and 1999 at state childcare centers. The rate of injuries in licensed homes dropped 31 percent.

To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone in the United States has been able to associate a real decline in the risk of child injuries with strengthening regulations for reducing hazards on childcare playgrounds, said Dr. Jonathan B. Kotch, professor of maternal and child health.

Common sense told us that these rules would make a very real difference, said Peggy Ball, director of the N.C. Division of Child Care. Thats certainly why we worked hard to make them reality. Now, we have real data that shows the rules are dramatically improving the lives of North Carolina children in childcare.

Kotch, the principal investigator, carried out the study with colleagues in maternal and child health. They presented it to state officials late last year and released it publicly today (Jan. 17). After presenting results at an international injury conference in Montreal in May, the scientists plan to publish them in a professional journal.

We reviewed and analyzed all 5,402 reports of medically attended injuries in regulated childcare settings in North Carolina over the three and a half years from 1997 to June, 2000, Kotch said. We also conducted 294 playground safety inspections in late 1998 in randomly selected centers, repeated he inspections in 91 centers in August 2000 and surve

Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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