Marla Robinson, assistant director of inpatient therapy services at University of Chicago Medicine, and her colleagues found that all the 4-year-olds who participated in the study could reach, operate and remove food from a microwave.
“Children as young as 17 months old can turn on a microwave, open the door and remove items, putting them at significant risk for scald injuries,” said the University of Chicago report, published in the Journal of Trauma.
Robinson found that the hospital handled 24 cases of children burned by microwaved soup last year, up from nine in 2003. Arguing that it’s too easy for small children to access hot food from a microwave ovens, the report recommended that microwaves be redesigned to be more child-resistant.
Robinson and the burn unit doctors say more education is needed about the risks of scald burns to children, which can be painful and disfiguring.
In 2008, Greenhalgh and others reported in the Journal of Burn Care & Research that soup scaldings happen most often in low-income families with low education levels and multiple children in the household. Education and product design changes remained the primary recommendations for greater safety.
For now, Beam said, “these noodles are totally banned from my house, and I tell everyone I know with small kids what happened. This shouldn’t happen to anyone else.”