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Children At Risk From Microwave Burns

October 7, 2008

A new study of scald burn injuries shows that microwave ovens are a serious safety issue to young children.

An evaluation of records from the University of Chicago Burn Center indicates that hot foods or liquids from microwave ovens are the fourth principal reason of scald injuries in children under 5 years old.

“Parents do need to teach their toddlers and their older children that the microwave is a potential source of danger as much as the stove is,” said one of the researchers of the study, Dr. Gina Lowell of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Researchers are calling for manufacturers to mount mechanisms that stop children from opening a microwave after it has been used to avoid injuries.

Up to now, scald injury deterrence labors have looked at having parents lower their water heaters so water temperature does not exceed 120 degrees. However, tap-water scalds signify a small portion of scald injuries in general.

Lowell and her colleagues went through the records of 140 children younger than 5 years old who were checked into the University of Chicago Burn Center in order to observe patterns of other varieties of scald injuries in young children in order to find ways to avert them.

Amid the 104 scald injuries not from tap water, 90.4 percent occurred from hot foods and liquids. Seventeen injuries, or 16.3 percent, happened when an older child was cooking, carrying the hot material or babysitting the injured child. Nine injuries, or 8.7 percent, were to children who had opened the microwave without supervision and removed the item inside; the youngest child hurt in this way was 18 months old.

It can be tricky to keep young children away from kitchen accidents, particularly if an adult is alone at home and trying to prepare dinner, Lowell noted.

Parents ought to keep a child far away from the stove if the child is in the kitchen while food preparation is in progress, she added, for example by placing younger children in a high chair or creating a safe play area.

“Most parents feel like they’ve got it covered…and yet we see all of these scald burns that happen to children,” Lowell noted.

Lowell and her team’s full report is published in the Pediatrics journal.

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