To identify the incidence, type, and severity of burns associated with microwave oven (MW) use and to compare MW-associated burns with those associated with use of conventional stoves, we conducted a review of a national data base. Data were obtained from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission Injury Information Clearinghouse for 1986 through 1990 concerning burn injuries to children (0 to 19 years). There were an estimated 5160 burns associated with MW use. The mean age was 7.6 years (median, 6 years); 25% of burns were to children younger than 36 months old. Fifty-eight percent involved females. Most MW burns were scalds (95%); 16% of these scalds were from exploding eggs or other food. No MW burn involved a body surface area greater than 25% and no patient required hospital admission. Microwave oven burns were compared with stove burns. There were an estimated 41198 stove-associated burns to children. The mean age was 5.8 years; the median was 3 years. Forty-five percent of burns were to children younger than 36 months old; 55% were to males. Most stove burns (74%) were thermal; 7% involved a body surface area greater than 25%. Five percent of children with stove burns required hospital admission. We conclude that (1) burns to children associated with MW use are less frequent and less severe than stove burns; (2) MW burns predominantly affect females; and (3) burn prevention efforts should emphasize the hazards of stoves, which vastly exceed those of MWs.

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