Monday, February 22, 2010

Choking Prevention

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a new policy statement on the “Prevention of Choking Among Children”. They are calling for dramatic changes in food labeling and food design to reduce a child’s chance of choking. Food is responsible for the majority of choking incidents in children. Every year thousands of children are treated in hospital emergency rooms from choking incidents and each year approximately 100 children die of asphyxiation due to choking.

The most common foods that children under age 3 may choke on are apples, raw carrots, hot dogs, grapes, marshmallows, popcorn, hard candy and gum. Parents are urged to ensure that food is cut into sizes no larger than a pea to prevent choking hazard. Children should also avoid doing other activities while eating to prevent food inhalation into their airway or lungs.

Young children put lots of other things in their mouths too. Coins, buttons, small toys, magnets, batteries and balloons are the most common non-food items found. While some pass through the intestinal tract without incident, batteries and magnets are especially dangerous and can cause unfortunate consequences to the child.

Toy manufacturers have regulations to put warning labels on toys that contain small parts. While some food manufacturers put warning labels on their products, much more needs to be done. The AAP is recommending that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and other government entities implement a nationwide reporting system be use for food related choking incidents to ensure quick food recalls.

Some food manufacturers market products specifically designed to appeal to children. Many products will use fun shapes and sizes that will appeal to children. These companies must have mandatory regulations in place that require their products to be designed to avoid choking hazards.

You may read the AAP’s new policy statement in their journal “Pediatrics” which is available online at:

You may find more information on choking at the Center for Disease Control:

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