October 16, 2021

New Study Finds Increase in Nonfatal Food Choking Injuries Among Children

A new study conducted at the Center for Injury Research and Policy by scientists there and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found there is an increase in food-related nonfatal choking injuries among children 14 or younger in the U.S. The data ranges from 2001 through 2009. During that period, more than 12,000 children were treated each year in hospital emergency departments for those injuries; that equals 34 children every day.

Sick Child In HospitalHard candy caused the most episodes, followed by other candy, meat other than hot dogs, and bones. Those four types of foods caused more than half of all of the choking episodes. Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center, said in a statement, “Other high-risk foods, such as hot dogs, seeds, and nuts, were more likely to require hospitalizations. These foods have high-risk characteristics that make them more likely to block a child’s airway or make them more difficult to chew, which can lead to more serious choking events.”┬áMost of the events, more than 60%, occurred among children 4 years of age and younger. But the number of choking episodes involving candy increased with increasing age.

Dr. Smith also said that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has surveillance systems to protect children from non-food related choking incidences, but no similar system or regulations are in place to address food-related choking. He would like to see warning labels on foods that pose a high choking risk, and changes in design of foods commonly eaten by children to reduce the risk of choking. In addition, public awareness campaigns of these hazards should be developed and publicized.

Children under the age of 5 should not be given hard candies or gum, and raw fruits and vegetables should be cut into small pieces. Furthermore, young children should always be supervised while they are eating, and should only eat while sitting down. You can find more choking-prevention tips at Your Safe Kids.

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