Emory University researchers have found, in a recent study, that microwaveable soups sent nearly 10,000 kids to the emergency room for burn treatment, between 2006 and 2016. The children observed in the study were between the ages of 4 and 12. More important than just this basic fact, though, the number translates to roughly 21.5 percent of all injuries which are classified as scald burns; these are burns resulting from hot liquids or steam. Scald burns can—and often are—quite serious.
And, yes, that equates to approximately 1 in 5 children.
According to study author Dr. Courtney Allen, instant soups and prepackaged noodles (in pre-measured bowls or cups) seem innocuous enough but that is misleading. Sure, they are simple to prepare and eat, but after you add water and heat them in the microwave, they actually become more dangerous than people realize.
Following up, the researchers also learned that more than 90 percent of children who have been burned by instant soup was soon discharged from the emergency department after the primary evaluation. This means, of course, most of the time the injuries are not serious. Still, scald burns can result in hospitalization, while others can even require surgery.
What is, perhaps, most disturbing about this study, though, is not the number of children who are getting burned on their arms, legs, and torsos by hot soups. No, what is most disturbing is that we don’t have any data on why this is happening. Allen inquires if it is because children are pulling these foods down from a microwave on a high shelf or if it is simply that young children are just not very coordinated and, thus, pose a higher risk for spilling. Perhaps, she also speculates, it might be that these pre-packaged foods are prone to tipping? Or maybe these children are tipping the cups/bowls and accidentally spilling the broths?
While researchers continue to investigate these questions, they are not advising parents to stop serving their children this type of food. Simply put, Allen thinks that parents should just exercise a little more caution when it comes to serving this type of food to children.