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Choking Warning Urged for Food Labels

WakeMed’s Trauma Program Director Sylvia Scholl shares tips to identify choking hazards for children.

Today on MSNBC, one of the lead stories is Choking warning urged for food labels, which highlights the death of a 4 year old boy after he choked on a hot dog.  This story discusses a true public health issue – airway obstruction in children.

Each year, approximately 890 children ages 14 and under die from airway obstruction injuries, which include unintentional choking, strangulation or suffocation. Nearly all of these incidents, 8 out of every 10, involved children under 4 years of age.

Most choking incidents in children involve food. To avoid this, parents and caregivers should always supervise young children while they’re eating and never give children under age 3 small, round foods such as hot dogs, candies, nuts, grapes, carrots and popcorn. Other common choking hazards include coins, buttons, small balls and toys with small parts.

Keep small objects that are potential choking hazards out of your child’s reach.  Literally get down on your hands and knees and crawl around to see what your child can reach. You’ll be surprised at how much is at your child’s eye level.

Here are some tips to help prevent choking that all parents should know:

  • If an object can fit through a standard toilet paper tube or a store-bought small parts tester, do not let your child play with it.
  • All parents and caregivers should learn CPR and first aid for airway obstruction. Infant and child CPR classes are available from the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association. Parents can learn effective skills that can make the difference between life and death.

For more information about preventing choking and other airway obstruction, visit Safe Kids USA.