Instant noodles account for almost a third of childhood burn injuries, new study says
UChicago Medicine found that instant noodles are a common culprit in childhood burn injuries
In fifth grade our school microwave caught on fire. The culprit? Cup of Noodles. But instant noodles are guilty of more than elementary school microwave fires — instant noodles account for a third of childhood burn injuries, reports a new study published in the journal Burns.
Researchers at the UChicago Medicine’s Burn Center reviewed all the cases between 2010 and 2020 of pediatric patients who were admitted for scald injuries caused by hot liquids. They noticed a pattern.
“Anecdotally, it felt like every other child we were consulted on for a burn was injured by instant noodles, so we wanted to dive into the data to see what the trend really was,” said senior author Dr. Sebastian Vrouwe, assistant professor of surgery at UChicago Medicine. “Our hope is to develop the groundwork for future burn prevention programming, as essentially all childhood burns are in some way preventable.”
The researchers looked at 790 pediatric burn cases. Of those cases, 31% were attributed to instant noodles. Unsupervised kids faced greater risk — 40% of instant noodle burns occurred when children were alone at the time of the injury.
UChicago Medicine’s burn team observed instant noodle burns commonly happen when the container inadvertently spills as it is removed from the microwave or from spills that occur while eating from the container with a narrow base.
Black children and children who live in areas with a lower Childhood Opportunity Index were more likely to suffer scalds than their peers, the study reported.
“We were surprised the sheer magnitude of the problem, which confirmed that focused effort and awareness on these types of burns could have a significant impact in the communities that our burn center serves,” said Vrouwe, per UChicago.
To reduce childhood burns from instant noodles and other foods, Vrouwe suggests direct supervision and assistance when removing the noodles from the microwave. Eating instant noodles at the table rather than on the lap can also prevent burns.