Monday, March 1, 2010

Choking is a Leading Cause of Injury and Death Among Children

Did you know that on average, a child will die every 5 days in the U.S. from choking on food? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has just published a new policy statement meant to minimize choking risks in children. According to the policy statement, the AAP recommends:

  • Warning labels on foods that pose a high choking risk.
  • A recall of food products that pose a significant choking hazard.
  • The establishment of a nationwide food-related choking-incident surveillance and reporting system.
  • A commitment from food manufacturers to design new food and redesign existing food to minimize choking risk, to the extent possible.

As a child care provider, you are probably aware of foods that are "high-risk" choking foods. These include hot dogs, nuts, popcorn, round hard candies, raw carrots, marshmallows, meat, chunks of peanut butter, and whole grapes. In fact, hot dogs pose the greatest risk. Due to their shape, they cause more choking deaths than any other food.

Here are some safety tips that you might want to share with the parents and guardians of the children in your care (tips from Nationwide Children's Hospital):

  • Do not give children younger than 4 any round, firm foods unless they have been cut into very small pieces. Cut hot dogs lengthwise and cut grapes into quarters. This changes the dangerous round shape that can block a young child’s throat.
  • Do not give toddlers other high risk foods, such as hard candy, nuts, seeds and raw carrots.
  • Never let small children run, play or lie down while eating.
  • Keep coins and other small items out of reach of young children at all times.
  • Carefully read warning labels on toys before giving them to young children.
  • To check if a part of a toy is too small, use a small parts test device, which is available at many toy stores.
  • Additionally, parents and caregivers should learn first aid for choking and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event a choking episode occurs.

To see the AAP policy statement, go to:

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