Top Choking Hazards in Children: Candy, Meat and Bones

Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH Center for Injury Research and Policy, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio; The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio; and Child Injury Prevention Alliance, Columbus, OhioMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Gary A. Smith, MD, DrPH
Center for Injury Research and Policy, The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio;
The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio; and
Child Injury Prevention Alliance, Columbus, Ohio

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Smith: During the nine-year study period, more than 12,000 children were treated each year in U.S. emergency departments for injuries from choking on food, which equals 34 children each day.  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). These four food types alone accounted for more than half of all the choking episodes in the study.


MedicalResearch.com: ere any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Smith: Perhaps somewhat unexpected was how high the number of incidents involving children choking on food was. In addition, we know that these numbers are an underestimate, because this study only included children seen in hospital emergency departments, and not those who may have received care in urgent care centers or primary care physician offices. 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.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Smith: Child caregivers should be aware of food choking prevention recommendations and guidelines. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children younger than 4 years of age should not be given hard candies or gum, and raw fruits and vegetables should be cut into small pieces. Young children should be supervised while eating and should eat sitting down. More choking prevention tips are available at www.nationwidechildrens.org/cirp-choking-prevention.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Smith: Implementation and evaluation of the following could help reduce the number of food-related choking episodes among children in the United States: improved monitoring of food-related choking incidents, placing warning labels on foods that pose a high choking risk, changing the design of selected man-made high-risk foods consumed by children to reduce the risk of choking, and developing public awareness campaigns to educate parents about the danger of food-related choking among children.

Citation:

Nonfatal Choking on Food Among Children 14 Years or Younger in the United States, 2001–2009

Meyli M. Chapin, Lynne M. Rochette, Joseph L. Annest, Tadesse Haileyesus, Kristen A. Conner, and Gary A. Smith

Pediatrics peds.2013-0260; published ahead of print July 29, 2013, doi:10.1542/peds.2013-0260

 

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