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Impact tests show bike helmets protect kids in crashes

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(HealthDay News) — Impact and crush tests show that children's bicycle helmets offer effective protection in crashes, a new study says.

The tests showed that the helmets can reduce by up to 87 percent the acceleration experienced by the skull during an impact and can help the skull resist forces up to 470 pounds in a crush accident.

The goal of the study, published online Oct. 2 in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, was to provide scientific evidence for a public education campaign to promote the use of bicycle helmets by children, explained lead author Dr. Tobias Mattei, a neurosurgeon at the Illinois Neurological Institute and Bradley University.

"The results we obtained in our study provide strong scientific evidence for the sometimes-neglected common-sense belief that bicycle helmets significantly increase children's safety," he said in a journal news release.

"As neurosurgeons, we are sometimes able to lessen the deleterious life-lasting effects of traumatic brain injuries that may occur in bicycle accidents. However, there is no doubt that the best strategy is still prevention, which in this case may be accomplished cheaply and simply by regular helmet use," Mattei advised.

It's estimated that 70 percent of children aged 5 to 14 ride bicycles, but national estimates of children's use of bicycle helmets range from only 15 to 25 percent.