Injuries from bottles, pacifiers, and sippy cups: silly fear or a real risk?

There is a somewhat interesting article in the  most recent issue of the journal Pediatrics; at least the title is interesting. It’s called “Injuries associated with bottles, pacifiers, and sippy cups in the United States, 1991-2010. I occasionally have wondered how common it is, for example, for a toddler running around with a pacifier in her mouth to fall and have the plastic of the pacifier cause significant injury. Is it a reasonable thing to worry about? Or is it akin to worrying about your child being struck by lightning?

It turns out that such injuries are not common, but they’re not especially rare, either. The authors found 45,398 of them appeared in America’s emergency departments over the past 20 years, averaging 2,270 cases per year. Most injuries involved bottles (66%), with pacifiers coming in at 20% and sippy cups at 14%. Unsurprisingly, most of the injuries were to the mouth and most occurred as the result of the fall. Also unsurprisingly, the peak incidence was at one year of age, a time when a child’s natural exuberance exceeds her coordination. Interestingly, even though sippy cups represented the lowest number, they were associated with more severe injuries, but only a handful of children from any group required admission to the hospital.

Bottom line — don’t let your toddler run around with a substantial plastic object  in her mouth. Obviously. Sometimes you run across a research paper that quantifies the obvious, screaming loudly: “I need to publish a research paper!” This is such an example.