NEWARK—Caring parents childproof their homes with outlet covers and other safety devices designed to reduce pediatric injury. However, there are hidden dangers that parents might not identify when they are planning protective measures.
“Even with planning, parents may not be aware of the dangers of two common household products that can cause severe damage if swallowed, magnets and button batteries,” reports Adam Sivitz, MD, Director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. “Another area of concern is when a child falls while using a bottle, pacifier or a sippy cup. Serious injuries to the face can result, and as a child begins to walk, he or she should not carry or use any device while in motion.”
Children’s Hospital of New Jersey and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provide these recent warnings on three hazards for children:
Magnet ingestions. The ingestion of magnets poses a serious threat to the health of children. The AAP was successful in advocating for new Consumer Product Safety Commission standards for children’s products and toys that contain magnets. However, many adult products contain magnets that pose a risk. Magnet ingestions have led to surgeries, bowel perforations, endoscopies, bowel resections, and other serious gastrointestinal injuries as a result of young children swallowing magnets and adolescents unintentionally swallowing them after using magnets as a fake tongue piercing. Ingested magnets can stick together and compress portions of the bowel wall between them, potentially leading to perforation, sepsis, and bowel obstructions.
Battery ingestion. Batteries, especially coin-sized button batteries, can be found in most U.S. homes in electronic games, remote controls, and watches. Small, shiny and appealing to children, button batteries can cause serious injuries if ingested, according to a study in the June 2012 issue of Pediatrics. In the study, button batteries accounted for 84 percent of all battery-related ingestions among children younger than 18 years of age. These smaller batteries can lodge easily in the esophagus and can lead to severe injuries and even death in less than two hours. Child caregivers should make sure that the battery compartments are taped shut and loose batteries are always stored out of reach.
Bottle, Pacifier and Sippy Cup Injuries. According to a June 2012 Pediatrics study, 45,398 US children under age 3 were treated in the hospital emergency department between 1991 and 2010 for injuries that resulted during the use of bottles, sippy cups and pacifiers, or approximately one child every 4 hours. Most injuries (86 percent) occurred from falls while using the products, and 83 percent of falls resulted in lacerations or contusions to the mouth and face. The study found that two-thirds of injuries occurred among 1-year-olds, an age when children are unsteady on their feet. Given the high number of associated injuries, it is recommended that children not use these products beyond the intended ages.
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