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Infant Safety Hazards

Leah McCammon was just five days shy of her first birthday when she was severely burned in her grandmother's bathtub. "My mother stepped out for just thirty seconds to get my other daughter from the living room," recalls Leah's mom, Shelly McCammon, an Atlanta interior designer. "In that time, Leah pulled herself up by grabbing the faucet and turned it on, sending 128-degree water splashing down." Three days later, Leah died.

It's tragic but true: More than 2,000 children die each year as a result of unintentional home injury, and the highest rates are among babies under a year, according to the Home Safety Council. Here, the four leading causes of infant death and injury at home  -- and how to prevent them.


Danger: Too few baby gates

"Parents often put gates at the top of stairs but not at the bottom, so their child crawls up and then falls right back down," says Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. Another potential problem: pressure gates, which can be pushed over.

Lifesaver: Choose hardware-mounted gates for the top and bottom of the stairs. And make sure the gates' openings are small enough that your baby's head can't fit through.

Danger: Baby walkers

In 2004 more than 3,900 kids under the age of 4 were treated in the emergency room for baby-walker-related injuries. Even more alarming, 80 percent of infants who suffer these injuries are being supervised, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

Lifesaver: Ditch the walker. "Research shows they don't even teach babies to walk," says Leslie Feuerborn, injury prevention and education coordinator at Denver's Children's Hospital.

Danger: Unattended babies in carriers

"Parents may think that if they strap their babies in, they can leave them alone in a car seat on a table," says Karen Sheehan, M.D., medical director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "But we've seen many cases where babies wiggled out and fell off a table, causing severe head injury."

Lifesaver: Never leave your baby alone in a carrier on a high surface like a countertop or dryer.