Should your baby's favorite binky or sippy cup come with a safety warning?
Between 1991 and 2010, more than 45,000 children under the age of 3 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related baby bottles, pacifiers, and sippy cups, according to the results of a nationwide study.
"This is the equivalent of about one child every four hours," Dr. Sarah A. Keim, study author and researcher at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, tells The New York Times. Dr. Keim thinks the actual number of injuries is much higher since the study looked only at children taken to the hospital. "We expect that less severe injuries were handled by the parents themselves, or that the child was taken to a pediatrician," she says.
Data collected showed that most injuries (86 percent) occurred from falls while using the products, and 83 percent of falls resulted in cuts to the mouth and face. Bottles were the most common culprit, accounting for about 66 percent of injuries, followed by pacifiers at 20 percent, and sippy cups at 14 percent, The Times reports. Two-thirds of injuries occurred among 1-year-olds and most accidents happened at home.
"We think 1-year-old children are just learning to walk and run and are pretty unsteady on their feet and may be more likely to experience a fall," Dr. Keim concludes.
The best way to keep your little one safe? Don't use baby products beyond their intended ages. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies stop pacifier use by about 6 months and transition from bottles or sippy cups to lidless cups by 12 months—coincidentally right around the age that most tots are just beginning to take their first steps. Studies show that nearly half of 1- and 2-year-olds continue to use bottles, and more than three-quarters of children 1 to 2 drink from sippy cups.
In Dr. Keim's estimation, if guidelines to stop bottle and pacifier use were followed, "about 80 percent of the children in the study would not have been using the product at the time they were injured," she tells The Times.