Parents who are considering buying go-karts for their children this holiday season beware: children who are hospitalized because of go-cart accidents require an average hospital stay of about five days, according to a new study.
Furthermore, more than half of the children hospitalized required at least one operation and almost a third required two or more operations.
"Many parents don't seem to be aware of the potential dangers of private go-karts," said David Cline, an emergency medicine specialist at Wake Forest University Baptists Medical Center and one of the study researchers. "Many of these injuries were severe, and all children required follow-up care after they left the hospital."
Private go-carts are largely unregulated
While public go-cart tracks have safety restrictions, privately owned go-carts are largely unregulated. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 10,000 go-cart injuries to children 15 and younger occur each year.
The researchers reviewed patients' medical records to learn more about their injuries. The 18 children injured on go-carts ranged in age from 2 years to almost 16 years - the average age was 10.3 years.
In one case, a child had leg fractures when his leg and foot were caught between the cart frame and a tree. In another, the driver ran into the rear of a parked truck. Another plunged off an embankment onto concrete. Another child's finger was nearly severed when the go-cart flipped and his hand was caught under the cart and wheel.
A variety of dangers
Cline said go-karts pose a variety of dangers, such as exposed gas tanks, machinery and engines and no protection for the head, arms and