This dangerous problem is on the rise
There are many choking hazards in households that parents may not realize are a serious danger to their children.
Recent research published in the journal Pediatrics revealed that the number of children under the age of six who swallow foreign objects has doubled in two decades. The study showed that more than an estimated 750,000 children were seen in emergency departments for swallowing objects over 20 years, and the number continues to rise.
The main culprit is coins, with the penny being the most popular coin swallowed. Other types of ingested objects include small toys, batteries, nails and jewelry. Irregularly shaped objects, batteries and magnets pose the most danger.
Dr. Charles Nozicka, a pediatric emergency department physician at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., has treated many children over the years who have accidentally swallowed foreign objects. While swallowing certain items may not pose a severe risk and only require minimal treatment, ingesting oddly shaped objects could cause serious damage to a child’s esophagus or gastrointestinal tract.
Dr. Nozicka offers the following tips to prevent young children from swallowing or choking on items:
- Pick up any small objects off of the floor, such as small toy pieces, coins and batteries, after use.
- Keep small objects at an elevated location that is out of children’s reach and sight.
- Learn CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver in case your child does choke while eating or playing.
- Contact your pediatrician immediately if you suspect an ingestion (especially batteries) — even if your child seems fine.
- Most importantly, keep a constant eye on small children – they are so inquisitive and will find objects that you may overlook. And of course, they put all of them in their mouths!
It is always important to keep an eye on your children, whether they are eating a snack or playing with their toys. Follow these tips to make sure your child won’t be in danger in the comfort of their own home.
About the Author
Meghan O’Grady, health enews contributor, is a public affairs intern at Advocate Aurora Health. She is a student at University of Illinois and majoring in Advertising.