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Foods Most likely to Choke Children

Update Date: Jul 29, 2013 09:53 AM EDT
Hard Candy
Researchers report that hard candy is the leading cause of choking-related visits to the emergency department for children between zero to 14. (Photo : Wiki Commons/ Adam Zivner)

When parents purchase toys for their young ones, the choking hazard-warning label is often plastered on the packaging. Since children are still learning and exploring, they tend to put anything in their mouths, which can lead to a dangerous situation where the children choke on these items. Although people might believe that toys are the most dangerous chocking hazard, a new study found that the cause of the most choking-related situations is food.

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For this study, the researchers reviewed medical data taken from emergency rooms from 2001 to 2009. The researchers recorded all choking-related situations in children between zero to 14-years-old. During this time span, there were over 100,000 accidents with an average of 12,000 each year. The researchers found that the majority of the choking incidents were due to food. The researchers also found that one-third of the incidents occurred in children under one-year-old. The mean age was 4.5-years-old. The researchers noted that the majority of the cases were treated and then released while 10 percent required hospitalization.

Although this study evaluated a substantial amount of data, it did not look into the deaths caused by choking. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that every year, around 57 children between the ages of zero to 14 die from choking while eating. Due to the fact that people think that toys are more of a chocking hazard, the researchers stressed that food is the leading cause and is responsible for 59.5 percent of the cases.

"These numbers are high," Dr. Gary Smith from the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH said according to FOX News. "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 researchers listed the top five categories of food that are the most dangerous for children. Hard candy takes first place on this list, followed by other candy, such as gum, meat, bone, and lastly, fruits and vegetables. Although this list can be helpful for parents, the researchers also created lists for children of different ages. For toddlers under one, the leading causes are milk (formula or breast), fruits and vegetables, and biscuits/cookies/ crackers. For children between the ages of one and two, the leading causes were fruits and vegetables, seeds/nuts/ shells and candy.

Due to the hazards involved with food, the researchers remind parents to supervise children to eat properly and to chew on their food well. The study was published in Pediatrics.

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