A common bathtime routine is sending thousands of kids to the emergency room every year—around 34 children per day. Despite warnings from Paediatricians and safety product labeling.
What is it you ask? Cleaning your kid’s ears with cotton swabs.
Data analysis by US researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found more than 30 children a day end up in hospital emergency rooms after suffering an ear injury related to using a cotton swab. Most of the children who suffered injuries were under 3 years old.
The researchers looked at two decades of records from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. Overall, more than 260,000 children went to emergency departments for a cotton-swab related ear injury between 1990 and 2010. The number of injuries peaked in 2001, but remained high at almost 13,000 in 2010.
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About two out of three patients were younger than 8, and children younger than 3 years old accounting for 40 percent of all injuries. Cotton swabs can actually cause serious injury by either pushing ear wax or other debris deeper into the ear canal or puncturing the ear drum. The most common injury among children under the age of 8 is a perforated ear drum.
Although ear wax is normal and actually protects the ear, studies from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation have shown that 90 percent of people still think they should regularly clean their own ears or their kids’ ears. However, the most common reason kids end up in the ER is an obstruction of the ear canal or a perforated ear drum, according to an analysis of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.
When it comes to how the injury happens, most occur while cleaning their ears, but a significant amount of kids—about 20 percent—get hurt playing with cotton swabs or falling while they have a swab in their ear. Most of these injuries happen when the kids are in control of the cotton swabs themselves, but parents are also responsible for accidental injuries about 16 percent of the time.
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