While broken bones are not uncommon in children, a 2013 study looked at which fractures are most common in kids, and which activities are most likely to cause bone breaks.
Approximately one-third of pediatric fractures occur during sport or recreational activity. In this Norwegian study, researchers sought to determine the incidence and causes of pediatric fractures in children under age 16 by evaluating 1,403 fracture cases over a 12-month period.
Exposure time to the most common childhood activities was measured through random interviews with parents in the study population.
There was an overall annual incidence rate of 180.1 fractures per 10,000 children. The distal radius, or wrist, was most often fractured (436 fractures, or 31.1 percent of all injuries), followed by fingers(436 or 31.1 percent) and toes (247 or 17.6 percent).
Snowboarding was associated with the highest activity-specific fracture rate (out of 15 activity categories), estimated to be 1.9 fractures per 10,000 hours of exposure, which is four times higher than the fracture rates for soccer, and five times higher than trampoline use.
“In our study, we discovered that snowboarding caused four times more fractures per exposure time compared to other common childhood activities,” says orthopaedic surgeon and lead study author Per-Henrik Randsborg, MD, PhD in the study that appeared in the April 2013 Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS).
“Furthermore, trampoline use did not seem to cause more fractures per hours of exposure than other popular childhood activities. In fact, handball and soccer had a higher risk of fractures than did trampoline use.”
The mean age of all fractures was 10, and there were more fractures in boys (61.7 percent of all fractures).
Winter activities causing the most fractures per weekly hours of exposure were snowboarding, followed by playground use, ice skating and team handball (European).
High fracture activities in the summer months per weekly hours of exposure were team handball, followed by skateboarding/rollerblading, soccer, and playground and trampoline use.
Soccer has the highest rate of fractures overall, when not accounting for hours of exposure, followed by playground, bicycle and trampoline use.
Snowboarding is associated with a highest rate of wrist-specific fractures compared with other activities. Most of the children suffering wrist injuries while snowboarding were not wearing wrist guards.
“Our study indicates what childhood activities give the highest risk of fracture per time exposed to the activity,” said Dr Randsborg. “The findings will be useful in identifying which activities that should be targeted for further studies regarding the implementation of effective preventive measures, so that children might continue to be physically active while reducing the number of preventable injuries.”