How often have you taken coins and small toys away from your toddler to keep her from sticking them in her mouth? Common sense warns that small nonedible items can get lodged in her throat and cause her to choke. But do you then give her grapes, chunks of cheese or hard candy? These edible, seemingly innocent, items can also cause choking.
The AAP recommends that you avoid giving the following foods to young children:
Children can get choked on virtually any food, but these are the foods that are considered high risk because they can easily get stuck in a child's throat and plug her airway.
Learning the Heimlich maneuver is always a good move, but a better approach to choking is to avoid it altogether.
Here are the AAP's recommendations to prevent choking:
Consider every food a potential choking hazard and either change its shape or consistency or avoid giving it to your child until she is older to minimize the choking risk. Additionally, never leave your child unattended while eating, even if she is eating foods she's eaten many times beforehand. You never know when she may chew inadequately or swallow wrong and have a piece of food get stuck in her throat.
At least one child dies from choking every five days in the US, making choking a leading cause of death for children three-years-old and younger. This has convinced the AAP that in addition to parents being vigilant about the foods they give their children, food manufacturer's need to take some responsibility in reducing the risk of children choking on high risk foods.
The AAP issued a new policy statement, published in the March issue of the journal Pediatrics, calling for warning labels on foods that are common choking hazards.
Because the size and shape of certain foods makes them high risk for choking, the AAP recommends:
Lead policy statement author Dr Gary Smith, who directs the Center for Injury and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, says if a child is choking but can still breathe, parents should let the child try to cough the food out on her own. However, if the child isn't making any noise or is turning blue, Dr Smith encourages parents to call 911 and perform the Heimlich maneuver on kids over age one. For babies younger than 12 months, the pediatric expert recommends doing back blows and chest thrusts to get the airway clear.
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