In a policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has called for new efforts to prevent choking, a leading cause of injury and death among children. Toys, food and coins account for most childhood choking incidents, particularly as curious young children put objects in their mouth.
Among non-food items, “latex balloons are the leading cause of choking death, and most of these fatalities are among children younger than 6 years,” according to the AAP. Other dangerous items are round, oval or cylindrical objects such as balls, marbles, and spherical toys or toy parts.
Hot dogs are the food most associated with choking because they are cylindrical, airway-sized and compressible, which allows them to wedge and block a child’s airway. Other high-risk foods include “hard candy, peanuts/nuts, seeds, whole grapes, raw carrots, apples, popcorn, chunks of peanut butter, marshmallows, chewing gum and sausages,” the statement warns.
The AAP calls for more warning labels and product recalls, a nationwide choking-incident reporting system and better food design. The organization urges parents, teachers and child care providers to learn CPR and choking first aid.
Click here for the full AAP statement (PDF format).