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Hard candy leads list of choking hazards for children

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Hard candy leads the list of food items that young children are most likely to choke on. In study recently published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers studied choking-related visits at U.S. emergency rooms that involved food between 2001 and 2009 for children from newborn to 14 years of age.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Choking accounts for a lot of hospital emergency room visits. There were more than 100,000 choking incidents reported, averaging about 12,000 a year.

While the vast majority of children are treated and released, 10 percent wound up hospitalized. More than a third was children younger than a year old, although the mean age was 4.5 years, implying that choking is not strictly related to infancy.

Non-fatal visits were examined: those that resulted in death were not recorded in the study. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 57 children die from choking on food. And while we talk a lot about preventing choking on toys, the majority of the choking related to children, 59.5 percent, was from food.

The top five foods that kids choked on:

1. Hard candy
2. Other candy, such as chewing gum
3. Meat
4. Bone
5. Fruits and vegetables

Hot dogs, thought to be the top culprit was actually low on the list, number 11, to be exact. As the study on examined non-fatal choking, and if you get a hot dog slice lodged in your throat, it\'s more likely to kill you.

Parents and caregivers have since gotten the message that hot dogs are dangerous.

The top choking foods were a bit different depending on age, which makes sense. For babies under a year, the top three were:

1. Formula/milk/breast milk (peak age for this was 4 months)
2. Fruits/vegetables
3. Biscuits/cookies/crackers

For children 1-2 years, here were the top dangers:

1. Fruits/vegetables
2. Seeds/nuts/shells
3. Other candy, but not hard candy. People usually know better than to give toddlers hard candy.

Children younger than two years of age can bite stuff off, but don\'t have the molars to really grind that stuff down. That\'s why it\'s very important to give them small pieces of soft foods.

For children older than two years of age, hard candy and other candy had the top two spots, with meat or bone in third. These children have the teeth to grind, but are still figuring out how to chew and swallow safely.

Some handy tips for food safety for children is to encourage them to chew their food well, meals should also be supervised; children should be sitting down when they eat and be discouraged from running, playing or laying down with food in their mouths.

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