Choking on food common among US kids: Study

Credit: Metro File Photo.
Credit: Metro file photo

Each day over the past decade, about 34 U.S. children went to the emergency room after choking on food, according to a new study of a group of nationally representative hospitals.

Researchers found that candy was the most common culprit — although choking on hot dogs, nuts and seeds most often required kids to be hospitalized.

“These numbers are high,” said Dr. Gary Smith, who worked on the study at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

What’s more, he added, “This is an underestimate. This doesn’t include children who were treated in urgent care, by a primary care physician or who had a serious choking incident and were able to expel the food and never sought care.”

The estimated 12,435 children ages 14 and younger who were treated for choking on food each year also doesn’t include the average 57 childhood food choking deaths reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annually, the researchers noted.

Smith and his colleagues analyzed injury surveillance data covering 2001 through 2009.

They found that children 1 year old and younger accounted for about 38 percent of all childhood ER visits for choking on food. Many of those infants choked on formula or breast milk.

Overall, candies caused just over one in four emergency room trips, followed by meat, bones, fruits and vegetables.

Ten percent of children had to be hospitalized after choking. Kids who choked on a hot dog or on seeds and nuts were two to three times more likely to require hospitalization than those who choked on other foods, according to the findings published Monday in Pediatrics.

“We know that because hot dogs are the shape and size of a child’s airway that they can completely block a child’s airway,” Smith told Reuters Health, noting that seeds and nuts are also difficult to swallow when children put a lot in their mouths at once.

Dr. Ronald Litman, an anesthesiologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said it’s hard to tell from this study how many kids are “seriously affected” after a choking incident.

“The vast majority of these kids, by the time they get to the emergency room, they’ve coughed or choked it out,” Litman, who wasn’t involved in the new research, told Reuters Health.

However, he said that he and his colleagues see a few kids every year who have inhaled peanuts and end up in intensive care because their lungs mount an inflammatory response to the fat in the nuts.

Smith, also the president of the nonprofit Child Injury Prevention Alliance, said many choking incidents could be prevented with better food design and labeling from manufacturers and with extra precautions taken by parents of young children.

“Clearly, rule No. 1 is supervision” when kids are eating, said Dr. James Reilly, from Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.

Making sure food is in small enough pieces is also important, Reilly, who has studied choking but wasn’t part of the study team, told Reuters Health.

For example, he said, grapes should be cut in half for young children, but raisins are probably fine whole.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.