NEW YORK, (CBS Newspath) – Thousands of children end up in the emergency room every year with bike injuries. Now, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics is stressing just how critical it is to wear helmets to prevent some of those injuries.
Bicycle riding is one of the leading causes of sport-related head injuries in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics report is highlighting the research that helmets significantly reduce risks of traumatic brain injury while bike-riding or taking part in other sports.
“Bicycle helmets are extremely effective in protecting head injuries. When you look at all that data together, about 90% of brain injuries can be prevented by wearing a helmet. But it’s not just your brain. About 65% of facial injuries can be prevented,” Dr. Lois Lee in the Division of Emergency Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital said.
Despite the evidence, one study shows only 42% of children always wear a bike helmet. 30% never wear one.
21 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring children of certain ages to wear a helmet while biking, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Dr. Lee says, “I would sort of say, treat it like a seatbelt. So insist that your child wear it every time. Also try to make it fun – you can actually choose the helmet with your child.”
Lee says the helmet should cover the forehead above the eyebrows, straps flat against the head with the divider under the ears and only two fingers should fit between the chin and chinstrap.
Four-year-old Harrison Fleming has been perfecting his two-wheeling all summer. His dad, Eric, makes sure he always wears a helmet. “We are lucky enough to live on a dead end here where there isn’t much traffic, but accidents can always happen,” says fleming.
Eric hopes Harrison will always choose to protect himself. “I hope he wears a helmet his entire life . I don’t think there is an age limit on safety,” Fleming says.
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The AAP says children, teens and their parents should always wear an appropriate and proper fitting helmet when biking, doing snow sports , ice skating and equestrian sports.