Baby's Injury Points to Danger of Kids Imitating TV
Wed Jun 26,10:25 AM ET
By Charnicia E. Huggins

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A case report of a 5-year-old child who severely injured his 22-month-old cousin while imitating a violent wrestling move suggests that children may indeed be affected by the violence they see on television.

"This is one of the only cases reported in the medical literature showing a direct effect of television violence on children," study author Dr. Norman A. Silver of the Children's Hospital of Winnipeg in Canada told Reuters Health. "The case study does show that imitation of television causing severe injury can and does occur."

In fact, Silver believes that the "case report presented does point to a much larger issue of kids imitating violence." Yet, because there is little research in this area, he said, "we can only speculate on the magnitude of the problem."

In the present case, the 5-year-old child performed a "pile driver" move in which he placed his cousin's head between both of his knees, lifted the infant's body and dropped to the ground. After the baby's head hit the floor, the caretaker, who was in a different room when the incident occurred, heard the baby crying and later saw that he did not seem to be able to move.

The infant was taken to a local nursing station the following day where he was found to have a 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) fever and was unable to move his arms and legs. He was first treated with antibiotics, as the healthcare providers were unaware of the "pile driver" move and suspected him to be suffering from septic shock, and was later transferred to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan later revealed swelling in his cervical and thoracic spinal cord areas--around his neck and back.

The infant gradually improved and was later discharged more than 5 weeks after his hospital admission.

"My recommendation to parents is to be aware of what their children are watching, and children should not view violent television at least until they can understand the difference between fiction and reality," Silver said. "It is also important for parents to watch television with their children in order to help their children understand the meaning and reality of what they're watching."

The case was presented recently in Toronto during the Canadian Pediatric Society's annual meeting.