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Risk of child accidents in the home

18 March 2010 Expertsvar

Targeted and individually adapted information to the parents of small children would reduce the risk of accidents involving children in the home. This is shown by new research from the Faculty of Health and Society at Malmö University in Sweden.

It is in the home that most child accidents occur. One common injury that affects small children is burns. Anna Carlsson, a pediatric nurse and researcher at the Faculty of Health and Society at Malmö University, has gone through journals in Malmö and found that it is especially children between the ages of one and two that incur burns, and that boys are involved more often than girls.

"The most common accidents involve scalding injuries. They often occur in the kitchen, when the child climbs up on the stove or counter, tips over a pan on itself or pulls on a cord, to a tea kettle, for example, and is scalded by water, " says Anna Carlsson.

Anna Carlsson interviewed a group of parents about what they believe caused the accident.

It is perfectly clear that many parents feel that it is difficult to keep up with the rapid development of their child. They misjudge both the speed and the reach of the child.

"Many parents also overestimate their child's capacity to understand danger. If a small child is really curious, it's not enough for it to have been told that the stove is an 'ouch-ouch.' Their curiosity will get the upper hand."

To prevent children's accidents in the home, children's care providers give information to all parents when the child is eight months old.

However, this information is by no means as effective as it might be hoped.

In one study, Anna Carlsson shows that half of parents do not follow the advice of the Child Health Care. Parents with low levels of education follow the advice to a lesser extent than well-educated ones.

Parents from immigrant backgrounds are also over-represented in the group that does not follow the advice.

"Few nurses are aware of the important educational role they have. They are very good at documenting the fact that they have conveyed information, but not in what manner and what impact it had," says Anna Carlsson.

Carlsson maintains that the information needs to be adapted to the preconditions of each respective parental couple. Her research also indicates that targeted and individually adapted advice motivates parents to undertake more accident-prevention measures in the home.

"It's largely a matter of creating an awareness of the fact that accidents can happen and how they can be prevented," she says.

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