COLUMBIA, Mo. - A safety measure to protect children might not be safe at all.
A new study conducted by the National Children's Hospital in Ohio shows baby gates actually send around 1,800 children a year to the hospital. The study lasted 20 years and notes that hospitals treated more than 37,000 children fro baby gate-related injuries.
ABC 17 talked to parents about the numbers and most of them said they don't use gates for this reason exactly. However, the parents that did use baby gates admitted the gates are not always stable.
"It is worrisome," said Seth Colaner, a parent of two young girls. "As a parent, you have to be vigilant about everything and baby gates is one of them."
However, being precautious is hard when following gate standards is only voluntary for manufacturers. Selecting the right gate for the right place is key.
"We just used one that had tension," Colaner told ABC 17. "We didn't use one that screwed into the wall or anything, which made it a little less stable."
Putting those gates in the wrong spots is what lead to thousands of accidents from cuts and bruises to serious head injuries. Researchers found the amount of children injured more than tripled during the study, jumping from four per 100,000 children in 1990 to almost 13 per 100,000 in 2010.
"The top of the steps we recommend using a mounted gate; Not a pressure-mounted gate, but one that is actually installed, so you're going to be screwing something into the wall or the railings to secure that gate," said Dr. Lara McKenzie with the National Children's Hospital.
Along with that, doctors recommend always facing the bar that latches the gate away from the room your child is in. It's important to also keep large toys and furniture away from the gate so a child isn't tempted to use the objects to climb over it.
It's these tips that Colaner told ABC 17 he'll keep in mind as his youngest daughter grows older.
"We have couple months until this one starts moving, so when she starts moving we'll have to have that discussion and kind of figure out what we're going to do," Colaner said.
Experts said while using the gates does provide a sense of security, it is important to remember that once the child learns how to climb over them - it's time to give the gates up. On average, parents stop using the gates entirely when their child is about two years old.
Experts urge parents to never use a "hand-me-down" gate without its original packaging. That way, parents can determine if the gate has any recalls or other safety tips they should be aware of when using it.