Everyday baby items can cause serious injury

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 1:02 PM

Sally Kalson

Of all the things parents worry about, the safety of bottles, binkies and sippy cups is not usually high on the list. But a new study indicates that even these benign, kid-friendly items are the cause of numerous childhood injuries, mostly when children fall while using them.

The conclusion: Parents can reduce injuries by weaning children from pacifiers before they begin toddling around, by transitioning them from bottles directly to open cups, and by keeping them seated while drinking.

The report in the June edition of Pediatrics is based on data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The authors found that 45,398 children under age 3 were treated for such injuries in hospital emergency rooms between 1991 to 2010 -- roughly one child every 4 hours over a 20-year period.

Some 83 percent of the wounds were cuts or bruises to the mouth and face or dental injuries after children fell while using the products. Two-thirds of the injuries occurred among 1-year-olds, who tend to be unsteady on their feet and prone to tumbles.

The fewest injuries occurred at age 2, either because fewer children are using the products at that age or because they are steadier on their feet.

The researchers noted that in 2010, these types of injuries were down almost 30 percent from 1991. Most of the drop was bottle-related, possibly because more children are breast-fed or moving to sippy cups at younger ages.

The study was done by Sarah Keim, Erica Fletcher, Megan R. W. TePooei and Lara McKenzie, who are affiliated with The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus and/or Ohio State University.

Keim said it was the first national study to look at injuries related to bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups.

"We focused only on the injuries that were treated in the emergency room," she said. "Those would be the more severe ones, but they are just a subset of injuries that occur this way. Others are taken care of in the home, or by a dentist or pediatrician."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children move from bottles to open cups at age 1 and discontinue using pacifiers by age 3. Keim noted that prolonged use of pacifiers beyond the age intended may lead to dental cavities and ear infections.

Based on the study, she said, "Parents might want to think about the benefits and convenience of using baby bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups in relation to health risks."

(Contact Sally Kalson at skalson@post-gazette.com.)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)

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