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Preventing common household injuries to your children

May 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
In an instant, a bottle can go from your child's source of comfort to her source of pain.

"I was reaching to get her and she kind of did a nose dive forward, and the bottle was in her mouth, and she chipped her tooth on the bottle," said Jackie Sherrill.

What happened to little Morgan is more common than you think. In a report provided by Nationwide Children's Hospital, researchers say every four hours in the U.S., a toddler gets hurt while using a baby bottle, a pacifier or a sippy-cup. The injuries are often so serious that they require a visit to the emergency department.

Dr. John Rodarte, with Descanso Pediatrics in La Canada, says it's because toddlers are new walkers.

"They're unsteady on their feet and therefore they fall much more easily, creating trauma to the mouth, chips in the teeth, lacerations to the mouth," said Rodarte.

Researchers say 80 percent of these injuries could have been prevented if parents stop using pacifiers at six months, stop using bottles when the kids can walk and don't let them carry sippy-cups around.

"Ideally we would have the children not running around with these things in their mouth, so sit down, have your family meal if possible, or at least sit for that meal instead of walking around with it," said Rodarte.

A related study warns of another potentially life-threatening danger: kids swallowing button batteries. The number of children swallowing button batteries has more than doubled since 1990.

"What we found in recent years was that about 5,500 children a year are seen in emergency departments -- that's one every 90 minutes," said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The newer, 20-millimeter lithium battery poses dangerous new risks. They can be found in watches, calculators, key pods and greeting cards. But most of the injuries are due to batteries from remote controls. If swallowed they can cause a chemical burn inside a child's esophagus.

"And in some cases actually erode the esophagus, even getting to the aorta. And there have been some potential fatalities from that as well," said Rodarte.

One recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is to tape up the back of your remote control so if it gets open, you won't have loose batteries lying around.

Symptoms of swallowing a button battery can be subtle, including vomiting, pain or a low-grade fever. If you suspect your child may have swallowed one, doctors say you should get the child to an emergency room for an X-ray.

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