More Kids Choking, Study Finds, One Food Largely To Blame [Video]

Choking incidents in children are on the rise despite much awareness of the danger, a new study reveals.

The research on a rise in choking incidents was published in Pediatrics and involved US children aged 14 years or younger in non-fatal situations between 2001 and 2009.

Researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to compile data on why choking is becoming more prevalent and how to stem the instances of choking cited in the study.

Choking is often tied to commonly problematic foods and non-foods — candy, gum, hot dogs, and even coins are often involved when a child chokes. The Pediatrics study culled data in the nine-year long period from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance system, with data from nearly 112,000 children seen in the emergency room during the time frame.

Nearly 38 percent of choking ER visits involve kids under one year old, and more than 12,000 children visit hospitals each year after a choking incident. The average age is four and a half, with boys and girls nearly equally sent to the ER after choking.

87.3 percent of child choking victims were treated and released from hospital, and 10 were hospitalized. The balance left the ER with medical advice.

Candy in particular caused more choking incidents than other foods or items, with nearly 16 percent of visits to the ER caused by hard candy alone, and nearly 13 percent additionally by other types of candy. More than 12 percent choked on non-hot dog meats, and 12 percent were in the ER after choking on a bone.

Dr. Gary Smith of the Center of Injury Research and Policy commented on the new choking stats:

“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.”

Researchers say choking awareness campaigns can reverse the new trend in choking events.