Doctors Warn Against the Milk Crate Challenge

August 27, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Frank Cunningham, M.D. contributes to topics such as Pediatric Emergency Medicine.

Michael Ullo, M.D. contributes to topics such as Emergency medicine, .

By: Katie Woehnker

Dare devils across the internet are at it again with a new and very dangerous viral trend, the #MilkCrateChallenge.

What is the Milk Crate Challenge? 

There’s no pain like stepping on a Lego with your bare foot – now imagine falling from six feet in the air and landing on a pile of giant Legos. That is essentially the Milk Crate Challenge.

First, participants build a pyramid of milk crates. Next, they attempt to climb the stacked crates like a staircase. The main goal is to make it across all of the crates without falling.

Is the Milk Crate Challenge safe? 

“While some may see this as a fun way to test their balance, this is a very quick and painful way to end up in the emergency department,” shares Michael Ullo, M.D., assistant medical director for the emergency department at Hackensack University Medical Center. “Think about the risks that come with falling off a ladder, then add sharp plastic crates to break your fall – it’s not a good outcome.”

Dr. Ullo shares that this trend can result in a variety of minor to very serious injuries including:

    • Broken or fractured bones
    • Spinal cord injuries or paralysis
    • Concussion or traumatic brain injury
    • Bruising, cuts and lacerations
    • Internal bleeding and even death

Some social media sites are taking steps to help prevent these dangerous challenges from spreading. TikTok has now banned the trend from the platform, sharing that it prohibits “content that promotes or glorifies dangerous acts.”

Should parents be concerned about this viral trend?

“This is not something you want to look the other way on,” shares Frank Cunningham, M.D., director of the pediatric emergency department at JFK Medical Center. “It’s natural for kids to want to test their strength and agility, but this challenge is too dangerous to partake in. Overall, stay away from anything that involves the word ‘challenge’ in it, it typically involves some risky behavior or activity.”

Dr. Cunningham advises that parents be aware of what their kids are participating in online and have open, honest discussions.

“Try starting with an open ended question to get them talking, like ‘what is it about this trend that excites you?’,” shares Dr. Cunningham. “Try not to jump into a lecture, but rather offer some alternative activities to try. At the end of the day, the trend will fade out as quickly as it started, so hang in there.”

Next Steps & Resources: 

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.