Infant Safety Devices Underused

Many doctors aren't urging parents to use baby gates, bath thermometers, study finds

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MONDAY, May 1, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Parents use safety devices such as baby gates and bath thermometers less than 25 percent of the time, and doctors are partly to blame, a new study finds.

"To prevent unnecessary trips to the emergency room, primary-care providers should thoroughly discuss all recommended safety devices with parents," study author Dr. Winnie Whitaker, a pediatric emergency medicine fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said in a prepared statement. "We found that safety devices parents commonly use are discussed more than other less familiar devices."

The study included 140 parents, who reported that they had been educated by their doctor about safety devices for less than five minutes. The average discussion took 3.7 minutes. Of the devices discussed, window guards, baby gates and bath thermometers were talked about 35 percent of the time or less, compared with 54 percent for smoke detectors and 75 percent for car seats.

Each year in the United States, in-home accidents lead to as many as 10.4 million emergency room visits by children.

More than half of all nonfatal injuries suffered by children are due to falls, and many of these falls involved unprotected stairways, which can be easily blocked by a secure baby gate. Nearly 24,000 children are treated in hospital each year for scald burns caused by hot liquids or steam. Parents should use a bath thermometer to make sure bathwater is comfortably warm -- about 90 degrees F -- for babies, experts say.

The findings were presented April 30 at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting, in San Francisco.

More information

The Nemours Foundation offers a list of safe baby products.

SOURCE: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, news release, April 30, 2006

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