Findings of a new study have revealed that about 9,500 children between 4- and 12-years-old go the to emergency room with scald burns from instant soups every year. The number is equal to one in every five pediatric burns.
The findings, which are set to be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference on Monday, suggest that instant soups that often come in microwavable cups may pose a safety risk to young children.
For the study, the researchers looked at more than 4,500 pediatric scald burns that were recorded by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System over a period of nearly 11 years.
They found 972 injuries associated with microwaving the products. The number makes up 21.5 percent of all scald burns in the study.
The researchers estimate that instant soups, often sold as ramen in the United States, are responsible for nearly 10,000 pediatric burns in the country per year.
Although more than 90 percent of the children who were burned by instant soups were discharged from the ER after evaluation, scald burns, which are caused by hot liquid or steam instead of dry heat, may sometimes require hospitalization and even surgery.
The most commonly burned area was the torso, which means that the children are knocking the soup over and spill the liquid onto their stomach and lap.
Experts now warn about the safety of handling instant soups, adding that scald burns are a major cause of preventable injury among young children.
“It’s important for us to remember, and for parents to remember, that these are just thin containers with boiling water in them,” study researcher Courtney Allen, a pediatric emergency fellow at Emory University, told CNN.
Allen reminded parents that their children need adequate adult supervision when they independently cook, carry, and consume the products.
“Instant soups and noodles in prepackaged cups and bowls may seem simple to prepare just by adding water and microwaving them,” Allen said in a statement published by Eurekalert.
“Once they’re heated up they become a dangerous burn risk. Caregivers need to closely supervise younger children who might otherwise get hurt if cooking for themselves.”
The researchers think that poor product design is a major factor that makes instant soups particularly dangerous. The meals usually come in Styrofoam cups or flimsy papers that leaves boiling water in potentially unstable containers.
The researchers urged the food product industry to consider making structural changes to the packaging used for instant soups and noodles to help prevent injuries.