Epidemiology of lawn mower-related injuries to children in the United States, 1990-2004

David Vollman, Gary A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. Our objective for this study was to describe the epidemiology of lawn mower-related injuries among children in the United States. METHODS. A retrospective analysis was conducted of data from children who were 20 years and younger in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission for 1990-2004. RESULTS. There were an estimated 140 700 lawn mower-related injuries to children who were 20 years and younger and treated in hospital emergency departments in the United States during the 15-year period of 1990-2004. This yielded an average of 9400 injuries annually, or 11.1 injuries per 100 000 US children per year. The mean age was 10.7 (SD: 6.0) years, and 78% were boys. The leading type of lawn mower-related injury sustained by patients was a laceration (41.2%), followed by soft tissue injury (21.4%), burn (15.5%), and fracture (10.3%). The most common body region injured was the hand/finger (34.6%), followed by lower extremity (18.9%) and foot/toe (17.7%). The eyeball/face and upper extremity accounted for 10.6% and 7.4% of injuries, respectively. Burns accounted for 34.5% of injuries to the hand/finger compared with 5.5% to other body regions. Ninety-seven percent of amputation injuries occurred to the foot/toe (49.5%) and hand/finger (47.5%) compared with 3% of amputations to other body regions. Burns accounted for 41.8% of injuries among children who were ≤5 years of age compared with 6.5% of injuries to children who were older than 5 years. Foreign body injuries accounted for 4.8% of injuries among children who were ≥12 years of age compared with 1.6% of injuries to children who were younger than 12 years. Amputations (31.9%), lacerations (28.8%), and fractures (26.0%) accounted for almost 87% of injuries among children who were admitted or transferred to another hospital. In contrast, lacerations (42.3%), soft tissue injuries (23.3%), and burns (16.9%) predominated among children who were treated and released to home from the emergency department. Children with amputations were more likely to be admitted than children with other types of injury. CONCLUSIONS. Injuries related to lawn mowers are an important cause of pediatric morbidity. The relative consistency of the number of lawn mower-related injuries to children during the 15-year study period is evidence that current prevention strategies are inadequate. Passive protection that is provided by safer product design is the strategy with the highest likelihood of success in preventing these ongoing injuries. The lawn mower voluntary safety standard American National Standards Institute/Outdoor Power Equipment Institute B71.1-2003 should be revised to include more rigorous performance provisions regarding prevention of penetration of feet and toes under the mower and into the path of the blades, shielding of hot mower parts from access by young children, and equipping all ride-on lawn mowers with a no-mow-in-reverse default feature with location of its override switch behind the seating position of the ride-on mower operator. By locating the no-mow-in-reverse override switch behind the ride-on mower operator, the operator would be required to look behind the mower before mowing in reverse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e273-e278
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Injury
  • Lawn mower
  • Pediatrics
  • Prevention
  • Safety
  • Trauma


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