Intended for healthcare professionals

Clinical Review

Lesson of the week Warming milk—a preventable cause of scalds in children

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 22 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:235
  1. S L A Jeffery, specialist registrar in plastic surgery (,
  2. T C S Cubison, senior house officer in plastic surgery,
  3. C Greenaway, consultant paediatrician,
  4. P M Gilbert, consultant plastic surgeon,
  5. N Parkhouse, consultant plastic surgeon
  1. McIndoe Burn Centre, Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, West Sussex RH19 3DZ
  1. Correspondence to: S L A Jeffery
  • Accepted 16 September 1999

Using a bowl of boiling water to heat a baby's bottle increases the risk of scalds in young children

Between February 1995 and April 1998, 23 young children were admitted to our burns unit because of scalds sustained after knocking or pulling over jugs or bowls of hot water which were being used to heat bottles of milk. We describe two of these cases in more detail to highlight the potential dangers of heating milk in this way.


The 23 children were aged between 2 weeks and 3 years (mean 14 months). Ten were boys and 13 were girls. Between 2% and 16% (mean 6%) of body surface area was affected by burns. Up to 33 nights (mean 5 nights) were spent in hospital. Most burns were superficial and healed without physical scarring, but 10 children were left with permanent scarring and two of these required skin grafting. Three children …

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