Mother Hubbard's accident problem

Children in large families have greater susceptibility to injury, but not due to their parents' disregard for safety.

Children growing up in large families are more likely to be injured in a preventible accident and to arrive later at an urgent care center or emergency room for treatment. Jerusalem researchers who studied this "Mother Hubbard" syndrome, in which parents have "so many children they don't know what to do," said these children's greater susceptibility to injury was not due to their parents' disregard for safety, but rather that their burdens forced them to leave older siblings in charge of younger ones, and the absence of a car often prevented them from getting help in time. The article's authors, which consisted of pediatrics, and experts of infectious diseases and emergency medicine at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Terem urgent care center, said that parents of large families should be better educated about ensuring their children's safety. The article, which was published in the latest Israel Medical Association Journal, showed that many accidents had occurred when there were no adults present and that some of the accidents happened when one child caused harm to another. The data also concluded that safety and supervision became a problem when there were more than three children per household. The researchers explained that the adequacy of child supervision in large families, frequently haredi or Arab, was often impaired. The researchers suggested that a lot could be done to reduce accidents by educating the parents. Some of the examples they gave were keeping hot plates and hot-water urns from a child's reach to help reduce burn accidents. They also informed parents about clips that can seal the top of urns, so that even if they fall over, the scalding water will not hit them. Parents should understand that having children as young as six or seven taking care of infants is unsatisfactory and dangerous, the researchers explained.
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