Only 21 states have mandatory helmet laws for pediatric bicyclists. This study sought to determine the incidence of helmeted riders among pediatric bicyclists involved in a collision and hypothesized the risk of a serious head and cervical spine injuries to be higher in nonhelmeted bicyclists (NHBs) compared with helmeted bicyclists (HBs).
The Pediatric Trauma Quality Improvement Program (2014-2016) was queried for pediatric (age <16 years) bicyclists involved in a collision. Helmeted bicyclists were compared with NHBs. A serious injury was defined by an abbreviated injury scale grade of greater than 2.
From 3693 bicyclists, 3039 (82.3%) were NHBs. Compared with HBs, NHBs were more often Black (21.6% vs 3.8%, P < 0.001), Hispanic (17.5% vs 9.3%, P < 0.001), without insurance (4.6% vs 2.4%, P = 0.012), and had a higher rate of a serious head injury (24.6% vs 9.3%, P 0.05). The associated risk of a serious head (odds ratio = 3.17, P 0.05).
Pediatric bicyclists involved in a collision infrequently wear helmets, and NHBs was associated with higher risks of serious head injury. However, the associated risk of serious spine injury among NHBs was lower. The associated risks for cervical spine fracture or cervical cord injuries were similar. Nonhelmeted bicyclists were more likely to lack insurance and to be Black or Hispanic. Targeted outreach programs may help decrease the risk of injury, especially in at-risk demographics.