When should parents be worried about head bumps and bruises in kids?

WATCH ABOVE: Kids falling and hitting their head is a common occurrence, but is it harmful? One doctor has some reassuring advice for parents. Kim Smith reports.

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For many young kids, bumping their head is a common occurrence, but that doesn’t make it easier for parents to witness a fall.

“In the immediate moment, you want to call an ambulance when you see them take a tumble,” Kelsey Moore said at the Angus Murray Park on Friday. She’s a mom of a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl.

“But you take a step back and think, ‘We’ve all fallen.'”

Her son once fell off the bed and hit his head on the side table. She said there was a lot of blood, but the cut ended up only being about an inch long.

“You panic because there’s so much blood,” she said.

“It really does seem so much worse than it is.”

Most kids are fine 

Dr. Bruce Wright is the divisional director for the Stollery Children’s Hospital emergency department in Edmonton. He said the vast majority of the time, young kids are fine when they hit their heads.

“Basically, there’s not enough energy transferred to them when they fall from standing,” Wright said. “Toddlers will fall more times than not. It’s the developmental side of head size compared to body size, combined with coordination of walking.”

Injuries often appear more severe because bumps and bruises are more pronounced on the head, Wright said.

“There’s minimal space between the skin and the skull,” he said. “If you fall and get a bruise (on your head), really, what’s going to happen is it’s going to go out and it looks quite dramatic.”

“We often tell parents, ‘If the kid is otherwise fine, if they’ll let you put some ice on it or cool cloth to let it shrink down, the bruise itself is not necessarily concerning.'”

Mom Erin Spooner has three boys and they each ended up in the emergency department for various injuries over the course of five days last week.

Mom Erin Spooner has three boys and they each ended up in the emergency department for various injuries over the course of five days last week.

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When should parents be concerned?

According to Parachute, more than 2,500 children under the age of four were admitted to the hospital due to a fall in 2010-2011. On its website, the national Canadian charity said falls are the leading cause for hospital admissions from injury for kids under the age of nine.

“Young kids fall just because of gravity, because they have a much bigger head compared to body and of course gravity takes over and they tend to fall,” Wright said.

Although most falls in young kids are harmless, Wright said falls from height could be more of a concern. Symptoms to watch for include vomiting, sleepiness, confusion or a headache. Wright said another concern is inconsolably crying, despite treating with Tylenol or Advil.

READ MORE: New concussion guidelines for children could change practices around the world

“If they’re gonna fall, they’re gonna have a bump or a bruise or a goose egg on their head. Sometimes those that fall will have lacerations, but for the most part we typically don’t see concussions in young children,” Wright said.

Parents with questions or concerns call Alberta Health Link at 811 or 1-866-408-5465.

Alberta Health Services also has information about concussions on its website.


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