London - Leaving children in the care of their grandparents could pose a risk to their health, a study suggests.
Grandpa or grandma may believe in ideas that have been disproved by modern medicine and could be harmful.
Leading paediatrician Dr Andrew Adesman surveyed 636 grandparents and found that 44 percent mistakenly believe that "ice baths are a good way to bring down a very high fever".
While once held to be true, now it has been found that the practice puts the child at risk of hypothermia.
About 25 percent do not know that "infants should be put to sleep on their back, not on their stomach or side". Sleeping on the stomach or side is now considered to be a major risk factor for sudden infant death syndrome.
About 80 percent of grandparents think butter is a good remedy for minor burns, while 62 percent wrongly believe that scrapes and cuts heal better without a bandage.
Presenting his findings to the Pediatric Academic Societies in San Francisco, Dr Adesman, of the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Centre of New York, also acknowledged the pressure on older people to look after children.
He said: "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."
Further research by Dr Adesman found that one in ten grandparents felt they did not have adequate support.
He added: "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."