This past week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new guidelines in the March 2010 issue of Pediatrics for the prevention of choking in childhood. As a Fellow of the AAP, I felt it important to publish this information as a public service and educational opportunity.
Choking is a leading cause of injury and death among children, especially for those 3 years old or younger. Food, coins, and toys are the primary causes.
In 2000, 160 children ages 14 years or younger died from an obstruction of the respiratory tract due to inhaled or ingested foreign bodies. Of these, 41% were caused by food items.
For every choking-related death, there are more than 100 non-fatal visits to U.S. emergency rooms. In 2001, an estimated 17,537 children 14 years or younger were treated in U.S. emergency departments for choking episodes. Of these visits,60% were associated with food items. Candy accounted for about 20% of the food items- hard candy being the most common. Coins were involved in another 20% of incidents. Hot dogs were responsible for 17% of food related deaths.
Why are kids more prone to choking?
2. Young children commonly put objects in their mouths as they explore their environment.
3. The ability to chew and swallow their food is not well developed.
Certain characteristics, including shape, size, and consistency, of certain toys and foods increase their potential to cause choking among children:
A hot dog shares the physical characteristics as for high-risk toys. It is cylindrical, airway sized, and compressible, which allows it to wedge tightly into a child’s throat and completely obstruct the airway. Other high-risk foods include hard candy, peanuts/nuts, seeds, whole grapes, raw carrots, apples, popcorn, chunks of peanut butter, marshmallows, chewing gum, and sausages.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) states that every child is at risk of choking. To reduce this risk, parents and caregivers should:
The AAP’s recommends:
For more information:
Choking in Children