Choking is the fourth leading cause of accidental death for children under age 5. While plenty of toys come with choking hazard warnings, foods such as grapes, nuts, and candy don’t – even though food is the most common cause of choking accidents among young children.
“The diameter of a child’s airway is about equal to the diameter of their little finger – it’s pretty small!” says Hansa Bhargava, MD, senior medical officer and expert paediatrician at WebMD. “Certain foods pose a hazard, as young children are less likely to chew them properly and they can easily get lodged in the airway.”
When that happens, it can be fatal. In December, a report from doctors in Scotland detailed three cases where children younger than 5 choked while eating whole grapes. Sadly, two of the children died. “There is general awareness of the need to supervise young children when they are eating, but knowledge of the dangers posed by grapes and other similar foods is not widespread,” the study authors say.
To lower the chances of choking, cut grapes into small pieces or even mash them up for little ones younger than 2, Bhargava suggests. “For kids ages 2 to 5, it’s also a good idea to chop foods into smaller pieces, until you are sure that your child can chew the food.”
Dr Sanjay Gangurde, Head of ENT department at Nashik Civil Hospital, said, “I have seen cases, where a groundnut has been stuck in the toddler’s oesophagus. A number of times grapes also get stuck in the oesophagus. A kid, who is barely 2 or 3 years old, has an oesophagus around 20 millimetres. So, it is likely that a grape or a groundnut will get stuck in the oesophagus. In some cases, the food gets stuck in the windpipe as well. So, the parents have to be extra cautious.”
He further added, “Parents must make sure that, if they are traveling with their kid, then they should not force the child to eat while traveling. He/she should be given food while stationary place. Not only the kids, but the adults also should refrain themselves from eating while talking.”
Dr Rahul Kulkarni, Head, ENT department, St George Hospital, Mumbai “If in any case, a food item has been stuck inside the oesophagus or the windpipe, the kid should be brought to the nearest hospital immediately. Doctors put a small tube inside the patient’s mouth and extract the item which has been stuck in the oesophagus. If, a toddler has teeth then only the parents should give then grapes or groundnut to eat.”
Other safety precautions you can take include making sure your child eats sitting upright at a table, and not let them eat while walking around, or even riding in the car . It’s also a good idea to take a CPR class so you know what to do if your child or someone else starts choking and needs help. How to perform CPR on an infant or child.
Finally, avoid letting children younger than age 4 eat any of these foods:
- Nuts and seeds
- Chunks of meat or cheese
- Hot dogs
- Whole grapes
- Hard or sticky candy
- Chunks of peanut butter
- Chunks of raw vegetables
- Chewing gum
Original Source: WebMD