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Pediatric neurosurgeons recommend banning children from ATVs

Neurosurgeons at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are renewing calls for a ban on use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) by children under age 16 after a 10-year review of injuries caused by the vehicles.

"Children have no experience or training in driving motorized vehicles, and they're driving them on uneven terrain where they can't see what's coming up ahead of them very well," says T.S. Park, M.D., the Shi Hui Huang Professor of Neurological Surgery at the School of Medicine and pediatric neurosurgeon-in-chief at St. Louis Children's Hospital. "This is leading to an increasing number of fatalities and devastating injuries with lifelong consequences for children and their parents."

Park and colleagues reviewed all cases seen at the hospital over a 10-year span, identifying 185 patients admitted as a result of ATV-related accidents. Among the study's findings:

  • One-third of the patients suffered serious neurological injuries including cerebral hemorrhages and skull fractures.

  • Two-thirds of the total patient population had to undergo inpatient rehabilitation.

  • Two patients had spinal cord injuries.

  • Two patients died.

The review was published in a July 2006 pediatric supplement to the Journal of Neurosurgery.

The study found twice as many males as females suffered neurological injuries. Patients included both riders and drivers, and their ages ranged from 2 to 17 years. Many of the injured did not wear helmets, according to Park.

"In Missouri, there are currently very few regulations on children's use of ATVs," Park notes. "No training or licensing is required. The law states only that children who drive must be a minimum of 16 years old, and that any riders 18 or under must wear helmets. In many cases even these minimal regulations are being ignored. This must change."

In their paper, P
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Contact: Michael Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
7-Sep-2006


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