Dr Gary Mountain, who led the UK’s first research into the bite force and dynamics of young children, says that the findings show a real need to introduce a bite-testing standard for toys.
Mountain explains: “Evidence shows that parents are not reading the warning labels. Or if they do, then sometimes they think that the age labels on toys relate to a child’s developmental capability rather than the fact that the toy may pose a potential risk from having small parts.
“In addition there is currently no standard that would safeguard children when biting and/or chewing toys or play products and breaking off pieces which may then be swallowed or inhaled.”
Dr Mountain, senior child health lecturer and deputy head of the university’s School of Healthcare, collaborated with colleagues at the Leeds Dental Institute to design a user-friendly instrument to accurately test the bite force of more than 206 children aged three to five. This age group includes some of those most likely to mouth, bite and chew foreign objects.
Their research showed that the force of a child’s bite is affected by dental health, their weight and even their ethnicity.
“The research was based the number of cases of young children admitted to hospital emergency departments after swallowing or inhaling small parts from objects and toys. There is a real need to develop robust bite testing standards for children’s toys but until now we didn’t have the research on which to base them.”
Dr Mountain has now received funding from the Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship to develop a commercial version of the user-friendly instrument to measure children’s bite forces.
For more information on Dr Mountain’s bite force measurement instrument go to http://www.yef.org.uk/show.php?cat=20204&article_id=623