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Household Furniture Tip-Over Deaths of Young Children


  • Presented in part at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 22–27, 2010, in Seattle, WA.

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Barbara C. Wolf, M.D.
Office of the District 5 Medical Examiner
809 Pine Street
Leesburg, FL 34748


Abstract:  The potential for the injury or death of a child resulting from the tip-over of a piece of household furniture or a domestic appliance has not been previously well recognized. We reviewed nine accidental deaths of young children that resulted from avoidable residential hazards and/or lapses in supervision of the children by their caregivers. The offending household items included televisions, bedroom dressers, a kitchen stove, and a lounge chair. The causes of death were mechanical asphyxia, blunt trauma, and combined blunt head trauma and asphyxia. All of the deaths could have been prevented by appropriate anchoring of the piece of furniture and/or closer supervision of the child. A thorough multidisciplinary investigation is essential in establishing the cause and manner of death in such cases and in identifying risk factors that may aid in the prevention of future childhood deaths.

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