You might not think baby bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups would be dangerous. But a new study at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that from 1991 to 2010, an estimated 45,398 children younger than three years of age were treated in U.S. emergency departments for injuries related to the use of these products.
That turns out to be something like 2,270 injuries per year, or one child treated in a hospital emergency department every four hours for these injuries.
Baby bottles accounted for 66 percent of injuries, followed by pacifiers at 20 percent and sippy cups at 14 percent. Since babies put these products in their mouths, it's no surprise that the most commonly injured body regions were the mouth, head, face and neck.
Most injuries were the result of falls while using the product, which suggests that children were walking or running with the product in their mouth at the time of the injury.
"Two-thirds of injuries examined in our study were to one-year-old children who are just learning to walk and more prone to falls," said the study's co-author Sarah Keim PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Having children sit down while drinking from baby bottles or sippy cups can help reduce the occurrences of these injuries."
One year-olds should be using regular cups
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend that children be transitioned to regular, lidless cups at 12 months of age. The AAP also suggests that parents try to limit pacifier use after six months of age as use after that age may increase the risk of ear infections.
"These are products that almost everyone uses," said study co-author, Lara McKenzie, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Educating parents and caregivers about the importance of transitioning their children away from these products at the ages recommended by the AAP and AAPD could prevent up to 80 percent of the injuries related to baby bottles, pacifiers and sippy cups."
Data for the study were obtained from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), which is operated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.