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The latest danger to your kids could be in your backyard

In the ongoing struggle against childhood obesity, any activity is good, right? Not necessarily. In a statement released today, a prestigious group of American pediatricians is telling parents to skip the backyard trampoline entirely.

The American Academy of Pediatricians is concerned about injuries, which include broken wrists, dislocated shoulders and sprained ankles as well as severe head and neck trauma, reports CTV.  Research has shown that netting and protective coverings on the springs do not prevent the two-thirds of injuries that take place on the mat. And one move the AAP recommends ditching entirely: flips and air-borne somersaults, which are the most common cause of head and neck injuries.

According to one of the statement's lead authors, Michele LaBotz, multiple users on a trampoline also appears to amplify the risk. Seventy-five per cent of injuries occur with more than one person on the mat, she told CP. LaBotz practises pediatric sports medicine in Portland, Me.

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And, much like the recent warnings about the risks of adults using a children's slide with a kid on their lap trampolines seem more dangerous when it's not just peers bouncing about.

"If you get an adult who's about 170 pounds bouncing with a kid who's 40 to 50 pounds, the recoil of the mat, when that kid lands -- and especially if he's not landing right -- he generates about the same amount of force as if he went from nine feet (three metres) onto a hard surface," LaBotz said.

The injury sustained by a smaller person is much more likely to be severe, she added.

"So in children less than the age of five, for instance, their rate of fractures and dislocations is 48 per cent."

And while trampoline injuries appear to be on the decline, from 109,500 in 2006 to 98,000 in 2009 (with 3,100 hospitalizations), the Canadian trend appears to be going in the opposite direction. Despite similar statements from the Canadian Paediatric Society, 4,247 cases of trampoline injuries were reported in emergency departments of 15 hospitals in the "five most recent years of data," reports CP.

Between 2005/06 and 2009/2010, the rate of trampoline injuries almost doubled in Canada, reports CP.

Do you think the trampoline should be left to supervised training facilities?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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