Indexed on: 02 Jun '09Published on: 02 Jun '09Published in: Pediatrics
To describe the epidemiology of baseball-related injuries among children in the United States.This was a retrospective analysis of data for children younger than 18 years of age from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) of the Consumer Product Safety Commission from 1994 through 2006. Sample weights provided by the NEISS were used to calculate national estimates of baseball-related injuries. Injury rates were calculated according to age group by using both population and baseball-participation data.An estimated 1 596 000 (95% confidence interval: 1 330 100-1 861 800) children younger than 18 years were treated in US hospital emergency departments for baseball-related injuries during the 13-year period from 1994 through 2006. During the study period, the annual number of injuries declined by 24.9%, and the annual injury rate for children younger than 18 years decreased significantly (P < .000). The most commonly injured body parts were the face (33.5%) and the upper extremity (32.4%). The most common injury diagnoses were soft tissue injury (34.3%) and fracture (18.4%). The most common mechanism of injury was being hit by the baseball (46.0%). Children in the 9- to 12-year age group had the highest injury rate (2.4 per 1000 population). When injury rates were calculated by using baseball-participation data (2003), children in the 12- to 17-year age group had a higher injury rate (19.8 per 1000 participants) than those in the 6- to 11-year age group (12.1 per 1000 participants).Youth baseball is a relatively safe sport for children. Although injury rates and the total number of injuries declined during the study period, our findings indicate that there are opportunities for making baseball an even safer sport for children. We recommend that all youth baseball players wear properly fitted mouth guards, that all leagues, schools, and parks install safety bases, that all batters use helmets with face shields, and that all players use safety baseballs.