Call them moonwalks, bounce houses or bouncey castles, but they seem to be replacing trampolines as the jumping device for parents to beware of.
A study in today's Pediatrics found a 15-fold increase in the number of injuries from the inflatable fun houses between 1995 and 2010. That translates to 64,657 children under 18 in emergency rooms.
The increase could be attributed, in part, to the rising popularity of bounce houses. Researchers said numbers of rentals and sales were too inconsistent to report accurately. Regardless, the increase was high enough to raise red flags.
"We just don't see these kinds of increases in the field of injury - it's an epidemic by any measure," said Dr. Gary Smith, the study's lead author and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy in Columbus, Ohio, in the New York Daily News.
Fractures accounted for 27.5 percent of the injuries, followed by sprains (27.3 percent). Although a small percentage of injured kids were hospitalized, there were four deaths between 2003 and 2007, according to The Associated Press, linked to kids hitting their heads on a hard surface. Falls caused about 43 percent of the injuries; collisions accounted for 16 percent.
The study's authors call for precautions similar to those for trampolines. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using trampolines at home. Other safety precautions for bounce houses include limiting the number of kids inside, increasing supervision and limiting the age of kids who jump to at least 6.