Choking in children leads to over 10, 000 ER visits per year. 1 child dies every 5 days from a food-choking accident. Food, not toys is the most common culprit of chocking accidents in children under 5 years of age. The reason for frequent choking in children is the shape of their airway. Children under 5 years of age have an airway about the size of their pinky, thus making it easy to block an airway with certain foods.
High risk choking foods for children under 5 years of age should be avoided or modified to prevent choking. The highest risk foods include:
o Cheese Sticks
o Chewing gum
o Chunks of meat or cheese
o Chunks of raw vegetables
o Dried fruit
o Hard or sticky candy and lollipops
o Hot dogs
To prevents choking either avoid or modify the high risk foods.
o Vegetables should be cooked and cut into small pieces (smaller than diameter of pinky)
o Hot dogs and cheese sticks should be cut lengthwise then widthwise and then into the shape of small moons to prevent complete obstruction if choked on
o Grapes should be peeled and cut into at least 4 pieces
o Young children should be watched closely when eating and eat only developmentally appropriate foods
o Young children should be seated (not playing or running) and not engaged in conversations when eating
If a child does choke, allow them to continue coughing. If they stop coughing, ensure they are breathing (the food may have become lodged and prevent ability to both cough and breath). If they are not able to breathe, call 911 and perform a Heimlich maneuver (familiarize yourself with several available videos on internet).
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