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The Boston Globe

Nation

Bounce houses a party hit but kids’ injuries soar

CHICAGO — They may be a big hit at children’s birthday parties, but inflatable bounce houses can be dangerous, with the number of injuries soaring in recent years, a nationwide study found. Youngsters often crowd into bounce houses, and jumping up and down can send other children flying into the air, too.

The numbers suggest 30 US children a day are treated in emergency rooms for broken bones, sprains, cuts, and concussions from bounce house accidents. Most involve children falling inside or out of the inflated playthings, and many children get hurt when they collide with other bouncing kids.

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The number of children aged 17 and younger who got emergency-room treatment for bounce house injuries has climbed along with the popularity of bounce houses — from fewer than 1,000 in 1995 to nearly 11,000 in 2010. That number had doubled just since 2008.

‘‘I was surprised by the number, especially by the rapid increase in the number of injuries,’’ said lead author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The study was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Amusement parks and fairs have bounce houses, and the playthings can also be rented or purchased for home use.

Smith and colleagues analyzed national surveillance data on ER treatment for nonfatal injuries linked with bounce houses, maintained by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. About 3 percent of children were hospitalized, mostly for broken bones.

More than one-third of the injuries were in children aged 5 and younger.

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