Why instant noodles are sending kids to the hospital

A piping hot grocery store staple is scalding pint-sized eaters. 

Instant noodles — the low-cost dish heated up on the stove or in the microwave — are a leading cause of burns among kids, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine and published in the journal “Burns.”

Researchers looked at 790 cases in which children suffered burn injuries between 2010 and 2020. They found 31% (245 patients) involved instant noodles. What’s more, kids left to play chef without supervision were at a higher risk for getting burned, with 40% of noodle burns happening when little ones were left unattended, according to the study.

“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,” senior author Sebastian Vrouwe, assistant professor of surgery at UChicago Medicine, said in a statement. 

Instant noodles, the low-cost cup sold in a pre-cooked dried block with flavor powder that heats up, is causing an alarming number of burns among children, new research suggests.
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Child eating cup of noodles.
Researchers found that the scald from instant noodles could cause second and third degree burns.
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Vrouwe explained that the amount of heat generated by heating up the noodles can cause second and third degree burns in anyone, especially kids. 

“Young children are particularly vulnerable due to their relatively smaller bodies and thinner skin,” he said, urging caregivers to monitor little ones whenever preparing the noodles at home. 

The study also found that black children in low income areas were more likely to suffer from burns compared with their peers, though the study did not specify how much more. 

A cup of instant noodles
The study found that the burns from instant noodles can be so severe as to require surgery such as skin grafting.
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Researchers said the starchy liquid that forms when instant noodles are cooked has been shown to leave unique patterns compared with a hot water burn and can lead to hospitalization, requiring surgery such as skin grafting in more severe cases. 

It’s not the first time instant noodles have taken heat for being the cause of burns. A 2018 study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference found the convenient soups comprised 1 in 5 scald burns that sent kids to the emergency room annually in the period between 2006 and 2016, as reported by BuzzFeed News. Researchers discovered that the products were the cause of more than 9,500 burn injuries among kids aged 4 to 12. The torso was the most frequently burned area, the research suggested.

This article was originally posted by The New York Post.

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