Researchers from The University of Nottingham are going into hospital emergency departments to talk to parents as part of a national study looking at the causes of the most common injuries in pre-school children.
Every year in the UK, a quarter of a million children aged under five are taken into casualty by their parents after suffering a fall, scald or poisoning in the home.
The Keeping Children Safe project aims to pinpoint the key risk factors involved and develop a set of recommendations on effective safety practices and equipment that could significantly reduce the number of young children requiring hospital treatment.
But to do this, the team need to gather information on recent cases and are using national Child Safety Week from June 20 to 26 to appeal to parents for their help.
Professor Denise Kendrick, of the University’s Division of Primary Care, who is leading the project said: “A large number of children are brought into casualty departments every year seriously or even fatally injured as a result of an accident in the home.
“We are keen to devise guidelines on the best ways of preventing these types of injuries which obviously relies on us gathering a wide range of evidence, which we can’t do without the cooperation of parents. We want to learn from parents, from all walks of life, about what they do to keep their children safe, so we can work out which safety activities work best.
“We realise that children’s accidents are stressful times for parents and we are definitely not here to judge. We know parents do their best to keep their children safe, often in very difficult circumstances. We want to reassure parents that any information given to us would be treated in the strictest confidence, would be held anonymously and, in the long-term, could save another parent’s child from a painful and traumatic injury.”
The latest phase of the Keeping Children Safe research, a five year project funded with £2 million from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), will see researchers going in to children’s emergency departments at hospitals in Nottingham, Derby, Norwich, Newcastle and Bristol.
They will speak to parents who have brought children in to receive treatment for falls, scalds and poisonings and ask them to complete a questionnaire on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the safety practices and equipment that they regularly use in their home.
The researchers will then ask the child’s GP to forward the same questionnaire on to other families registered with their practice with a child the same age who hasn’t been taken to hospital with an injury to act as a control group.
They are particularly interested in speaking to parents from inner-city areas. These areas often have a higher rate of accidents in the home, so the experiences of parents living in these areas will be really valuable to us.
All the families who take part will be offered a £5 gift token to thank them for their time.
The Keeping Children Safe project is a collaboration between The University of Nottingham, NHS Nottinghamshire County primary care trust and the Child Accident Prevention Trust.
A spokesperson from NHS Nottinghamshire County said: “Child safety is something all parents and carers worry about, both in and out of the house. It is vital that Nottinghamshire children and young people stay safe. We hope that as many people as possible will come forward to help out; just a little time can make a big difference to children’s safety.”
Now two years into the project, the researchers have also been undertaking other studies on childhood injuries, including a systematic literature review, collating all the results from previous research studies into injuries in the home to pre-school children and a survey of safety practices and accident prevention measures in children’s homes.
Over the coming months, researchers on the project will be spending time in paediatric emergency departments at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust’s Queen’s Medical Centre, The Royal Derby Hospital and hospitals in Bristol, Norwich and Newcastle.
The research draws on more than 20 years of academic experience on child safety at The University of Nottingham, which has helped to inform national guidelines on preventing children’s injuries from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the national home safety equipment scheme provided by the Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and local safety equipment schemes part-funded by NHS Nottinghamshire County. The research also influenced new legal requirements for the installation of thermostatic mixer valves in new-build properties to lower the temperature of water from taps to prevent scalds.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.
The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.