Application of baby walkers in Russia: Epidemiological aspects

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612.084: 685.3

A.N. Sharov1, A.V. Krivova1, S.S. Rodionova2


1Tver State Medical University, 4 Sovetskaya Str., Tver, 170100, Russian Federation
2N.N. Priorov's National Medical Research Center for Traumatology and Orthopedics, 10 Priorova Str., 127299, Moscow, Russian Federation


As per various research data, from 42% to 90% families all over the world use baby walkers. There are some data implying that baby walkers prevent motor skills from their natural development and are to a certain extent dangerous for infants' health. Prevalence of damages associated with baby walkers varies from 7% to 50% according to different estimations. Our research goals were to determine reasons for application of baby walkers in Russia and their prevalence in Russian families; to assess levels and structure of children injuries caused by baby walkers and their influence on motor development and on walking pattern formation.

We performed three cohort pieces of research with pseudo-retrospective design. The overall sampling included 749 children; "baby-walker" groups consisted of 363 infants. We also performed an anamnestic questioning of parents with specially designed anonymous questionnaires. The research was accomplished on typical Russian territories (Rzhev and Rzhev district in Tver' region, population amounts to approximately 60.3 thousand people).

We detected that frequency with which baby walkers were applied among children on the examined territories was similar to average frequency detected worldwide and amounted to 62.11±18.5%. Parents think that basic advantages and reasons for application of baby walkers are as follows: they make a child to develop faster; they keep a baby busy and help to keep it safe; they entertain a baby; it is a tradition. The detected level of injuries caused by baby walkers was relatively low (15.4%). There were no injuries that require medical aid. Our research didn't reveal any statistically authentic influence exerted by baby walkers on formation of acquired static deformations in infancy. There is also no statistically authentic discrepancy between children from "baby walkers" group and "without baby walkers" group in the examined sampling when they reach the following stages in their development: "standing with a support" and "moving with a support". But on average, children who grew with baby walkers started to walk on their own with a 13-day delay. We detected a statistically authentic strong correlation (p<0.01) between application of baby walkers and risk of tiptoe walking (RR=3.56; CI 2.56–4.99 for 95% provision). A longer period of tiptoe walking in "baby walkers" group confirms that baby walkers exert long-term negative influence on walking pattern structure. We detected the following additional (attributable) population risk (PAR): absence of walking on one's own, PAR=4.45%–5.3%; tiptoe walking, PAR=19.6%–23.4%. Application of baby walkers in families from the examined population decreased from 52.03% to 43.66% and it means that active informative campaigns aimed at explaining baby walkers dangers to parents and guardians were quite efficient.

It is advisable to perform further research on the matter.

baby walkers, children injuries, stages in motor development, delay in onset of walking, tiptoe walking, idiopathic toe-walking
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