Food-related choking sends thousands of kids to the ER

Food-related choking sends thousands of kids to the ER

Hard candy may cause more than just cavities among children, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

The Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital reviewed nonfatal food-related choking statistics among children 14 years of age and younger from 2001 to 2009. Researchers found that more than 12,000 children were treated in U.S. emergency departments each year for injuries from choking on food, equaling to about 34 kids a day.

Children four years of age and younger accounted for more than 60 percent of the choking episodes. After the age of seven, the number of cases remained relatively unchanged through age 14.

According to the study, conducted in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hard candy caused the most choking episodes (15 percent), followed by other candy (13 percent), meat other than hot dogs (12 percent) and bones (12 percent).

“Other high-risk foods, such as hot dogs, seeds and nuts, were more likely to require hospitalizations,” Gary Smith, MD, study leader and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a statement.

In 10 percent of the cases children had to be hospitalized and often undergo a bronchoscopy, a procedure that allows a doctor to look in the lungs’ airway utilizing a thin viewing instrument.

“Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission has well-established surveillance systems in place, as well as legislation and regulations to protect children from nonfood-related choking, no similar monitoring systems, legislation or regulations currently exist to address food-related choking among children,” Smith said.

Choking is a scary thing to think about when it comes to your child, but there are steps you can take to prevent it, according to Dr. Cheryl Donovan-Hunt, a pediatrician with Advocate Medical Group.

“Children should always be supervised during meals and have food cut up into pieces no bigger than the size of a thumb,” says Dr. Cheryl Donovan-Hunt. “It’s also important that food is given in small portions so that children don’t overstuff their mouth.”

If despite the best precautions your child still chokes, be prepared to act. Dr. Donovan-Hunt suggests parents go through a CPR class to learn the standardized techniques in case an emergency arises.

Related Posts


Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.