Your baby’s ba-ba or binky are probably associated with cozy comfort, but a new study finds that they can actually cause injury, a risk that is increased if they are used beyond the recommended ages. In fact, according to data from National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a child is taken to the emergency room for a bottle, sippy cup or pacifier-related injury approximately every four hours.
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The study, published in Pediatrics, looked at data for kids 3 and under over a 20-year period, and found a surprising number of injuries caused usually when children fell with a bottle, sippy cup or pacifier in their mouth, resulting in cuts, bruises, broken teeth or other problems. Bottle injuries comprised 66 percent of the ER visits, followed by pacifiers at 20 percent, and sippy cups at 14 percent. Dr. Sarah A. Keim, the study’s author and a researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus,Ohio, says the actual numbers of cases is almost certainly higher, since it doesn’t include those that didn’t seek treatment at the ER.
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While medical experts recommend discontinuing the bottle at around one year of age, about the same time many kids are learning to walk, many parents have a hard time breaking their kids of the habit. However, according to Dr. Keim’s estimate, about 80 percent of the injuries in the study could have been prevented by following AAP guidelines of eliminating a pacifier at around 6 months, the bottle around the first birthday, and a sippy cup as soon as your child can handle it, usually before age 2. That’s not because lidless cups are less dangerous in a fall, but because parents are more likely to insist their kids sit still while using them.
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When did your child give up the bottle? Have any of your children ever gotten hurt by a bottle, binky or sippy cups?