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Michelle Tessier, Deseret News
Lexi Van Vuuren shops with Mackay Biesinger, 8, right, Rogan Van Vuuren, 5 months, not pictured, and Callum Van Vuuren, 3, left, at Smith's Marketplace in Lehi, Friday, June 6, 2014. Smith's is launching a campaign as part of National Safety Month to educate parents on how to use shopping carts safely. She said she started putting Rogan Van Vuuren in the center of the cart after reading an article about safety.

SALT LAKE CITY — A startling trend has prompted some local retail establishments to upgrade some of their shopping carts to avoid injuries to young children.

Salt Lake City-based retailer Smith’s Food and Drug is launching a campaign as part of National Safety Month to educate parents on how to use shopping carts safely.

A study conducted at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital examined data relating to children under age 15 who were treated in emergency rooms for injuries associated with shopping carts.

According to the study, 530,494 children were treated with shopping cart-related injuries between 1990 and 2011, translating to an average of more than 24,000 annually or 66 per day who ended up in emergency rooms.

The report, published in the January issue of Clinical Pediatrics, discovered that falls from a shopping cart accounted for 70.4 percent of injuries, followed by running into or falling over a cart, tipping them over and entrapment of extremities. Head injuries accounted for 78.1 percent of all reported cart-related injuries.

The annual rate of concussions and closed head injuries jumped dramatically by more than 200 percent during the study period, while soft-tissue injuries were the most common diagnosis for head injuries. Most of the increase was associated with children age 4 or younger, the study showed.

“It is important for parents to understand that shopping carts can be a source of serious injury for their children,” explained Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “However, they can reduce the risk of injury by taking a few simple steps of precaution, such as using the shopping cart safety belts if their child needs to ride in the cart.”

In response, several Utah retailers have introduced new shopping carts equipped with the Safe-Dock system aimed at providing enhanced security for small children who typically are carried in child safety seats.

Safe-Dock is a universal car seat docking station for shopping carts. The product allows parents with infants to easily transition from the car to the shopping cart for a safer shopping experience, explained Marsha Gilford, vice president of public affairs for Smith’s Food and Drug.

The specially designed carts keep infant car carriers securely in place, directly addressing a dangerous trend of parents who balance ill-fitting car seats precariously atop the shopping carts, she said.

“This gives parents a safer and more convenient option,” Gilford said.

Safe-Dock is permanently mounted to the top of the cart with a heavy-duty harness that buckles in the infant carrier as easily as a seat belt. Smith’s now has Safe-Dock available at all its stores across seven states, including Utah, Gilford said.

Many parents like this option, she said, not only because it’s safe, but because the infant is facing them, allowing for more face-to-face interaction.

“It’s a preventative measure that we think is really important,” Gilford said. “It will be a lot safer for customers and their children.”

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