Researchers warn holiday dangers

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COLUMBIA - Some people love the holiday season so much they break out decorations in months before the official day.

But new research is warning parents of the hidden dangers of the holidays.

Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine found, during a 15-year period, more than 1,000 instances where children were taken to the emergency room because of electrical burns in and around their mouths. 

The researchers pored over injury reports from Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database, a product safety database.

David Chang co-authored the study and said he wanted to find out more about the problem.

"One of the common pediatric problems that was discussed maybe 10 to 20 years ago was oral burns from electrical injuries," Chang said. "We were looking to see if this was still a prevalent problem or not."

The study found children were still biting cords or putting the hot end of a plug into their mouths. Chang said over the years the number of injuries has decreased but the nature of the injuries is what's important.

“This is an otherwise very preventable type of injury," Chang said. "If we can protect kids from playing with cords or putting the cords in a more responsible location or hiding them or being more mindful about toddlers playing around electrical devices these injuries can be easily prevented.”

Chang's research partner agrees. "The reason this research is important is really two-fold," Lauren Umstattd, a doctor with MU's Department of Otolaryngology said. "One is that it's a preventable injury. I think we can do a lot in terms of educating parents and caregivers. And, the second reason is that it can cause a lot of long-term issues."

The researchers have a few tips to make the holidays safer: 

  • Put electrical cords in places away from where children play.
  • Be aware of where your kids are playing in relation to electrical devices.
  • If your child gets a mouth burn, contact your physician or seek other medical assistance.