Choking is a leading cause of injury among children, and can sometimes be fatal, especially in children 4 years of age or younger. The number of children who choke on food is particularly high, especially because the size, shape and consistency of certain foods make them more likely to be a choking hazard. In the study, “Nonfatal Choking on Food Among Children 14 Years or Younger in the United States, 2001-2009,” published in the August 2013 Pediatrics (published online July 29), researchers investigated nonfatal pediatric food choking-related emergency department (ED) visits from 2001 to 2009 using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program. The authors found that an average of 12,400 children ages 0 to 14 years of age were treated in EDs for nonfatal food-related choking annually, which equals 34 children per day. Hard candy caused 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, including hot dogs and seeds and nuts, were more likely to require hospitalizations. Boys accounted for just over half (55 percent) of all cases, and children 0 to 4 years of age experienced the highest rate of food-related choking. In line with recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, study authors propose implementing improved monitoring of food-related choking incidents, placing warning labels on foods that pose a high choking risk, and developing public awareness campaigns to educate parents and the public about the danger of food-related choking among children.
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