Grandparents' outdated health remedies may put children at risk

08 May 2017

Health advice from the old might not be such gold.

Grandparents may be putting young relatives at risk by using outdated health remedies, researchers warn.

Experts have pointed out that the older generation may follow old ideas, many of which are now condemned by modern medicine due to being potentially harmful, when looking after their grandchildren, increasing their chances of causing more damage.

Research conducted in America surveyed 636 grandparents about their knowledge on how to treat children’s health problems, with it found that 44 percent of them were still convinced that ice baths were a good way to lower a high fever. However, over the decades it has since been found that this method puts youngsters at risk of hypothermia.

Furthermore, 25 percent of the grandparents didn’t realise that tots should be put in their cots on their back rather than on their side or stomachs, which increases their risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). And a worrying 62 per cent were adamant that scrapes and cuts heal better, and quicker, without a band-aid or bandage, while 80 percent of the older people thought butter was a good treatment for burns.

“When grandparents step up to the plate, it can be wonderful for grandchildren but can also pose challenges in terms of lifestyle, finances and mental and physical health to a somewhat older or elderly cohort,” Dr Andrew Adesman said in a statement.

“In their questionnaires, a fairly large sample size of grandparents felt they were doing a good job but acknowledged they didn’t have the support they often needed and that their role could be alienating in terms of their own peer group.”

Other results included one in 10 grandparents admitting they didn’t feel they had adequate skills to care for children, while 43 percent of those who helped in looking after kids revealed they were open to the idea of counselling. And 71 per cent confessed their social lives were limited due to childcare.

Dr Adesman, who will be presenting his findings at the Paediatric Academic Societies meeting in San Francisco, also pointed out that his study also confirms grandparents’ physical and emotional health is affected by looking after children.

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