The use of motorbikes among children and adolescents is dangerous, on the rise and leading to a greater number of injuries, according to a new Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center study. In addition, the study shows that children often ride motorbikes on public roads and, most of the time, without wearing helmets, leading to significantly increased severity of injury.
The study, published in the March issue of Pediatrics, concludes that children should not operate motorbikes until they are old enough to obtain a drivers license and that mandatory helmet use should be pursued. "Motorbikes are two-wheeled vehicles, such as motorcycles and dirt bikes, and are intended for off-road use," says Wendy Pomerantz, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Cincinnati Childrens and the studys lead author. "Riding motorbikes is dangerous because the riders body is fully exposed and there is very little protection during a crash. Fast vehicles, combined with immature skeletal systems, strength, coordination and judgment of many young riders, result in increased potential for injuries."
The researchers examined data from six Ohio hospitals that admit a significant number of pediatric trauma patients. In all, 182 children under the age of 16 (the legal driving age in Ohio) were hospitalized between 1995 and 2001. Of the 85 percent of patients in which events surrounding the injury were documented, 35.5 percent rode in streets, and 53.9 did not wear helmets. One died. Those who did wear helmets sustained significantly less severe injuries.
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