Sippy Cups, Bottles & Pacifiers: Toddler Health Hazards
To the list of things to worry about keeping your child safe from, you can now add sippy cups, pacifiers and bottles.
A just-published study in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has found that, from 1991 through 2010, an average of about 2,270 children a year received treatment in an emergency room for injuries related to those staples of childhood.
Altogether, researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found that an estimated 44,398 children under the age of three were brought to the ER for treatment with bottles the culprit for 65.8% of injuries; pacifier-related injuries accounted for 19.9% of the visits and sippy cup ones for 14.3%. In most cases (86.1%), a child fell “while using the product,” suffering a laceration to the mouth. One-year-old children were most likely to be injured.
While a child walking while holding a regular cup is not safer, study author Sarah A. Keim points out that “parents are simply more likely to make their children sit or stay in one spot while drinking from a lidless cup to prevent spills.” That is, it is not the bottles or sippy cups in and of themselves that are inherently dangerous (though some dentists have singled out the lidded cups as linked to an increase in numerous cavities in very young children). The cup’s (or bottle’s) design means that parents are more likely to let a child walk around with a cup or bottle: best watch your sippy-cup holding child as much as you would if she or he were drinking from a regular cup.
Another new study in Pediatrics, also by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, focused on the potential hazards posed to children by another staple of our early 21st-century lifestyle, the tiny button batteries routinely used in everything from toys to remote control devices as well as other home electronics. In the past two decades, about 66,000 children and teenagers have gone to the ER after ingesting batteries. None of the instances were fatal, but, as the New York Times’ Well blog underscores, “lithium-cell batteries that are swallowed can set off a chemical reaction inside the body that can lead to severe tissue damage in just two hours.” As the batteries can be mistaken for a coin, an electrocardiogram electrode or other external object when a chest x-ray is taken, the study authors urge not only parents but also doctors to be aware of the hazard.
As the mother of a teenager (who is indeed turning 15 years old tomorrow), my first reaction to both of these studies was, “where is the parental common sense”? But then I recall my worried mindset in those days (compounded by the fact that my son, when a toddler, was showing numerous signs of autism, which he was diagnosed with shortly after his second birthday), when the whole world seemed a hazard, full of numerous small items readily gulped down. Charlie never took too much to a pacifier and my main memory of sippy cuts was exhaustively scrubbing the lids to make sure not a bit of residue was left.
The two studies have led to me reflect on how modern conveniences and innovations so often seem to create so many new woes and worries that you wonder, are they worth it?.
Do such studies from the AAP offer valuable advice to keep our children safe and help them lead healthy, happy lives? Or do they only create undue alarm?
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