The grape! a killer of kids (choking)


Choking is a hazard, and a significant cause of death in children under the age of five. Last year, researchers from Children’s National Medical Centre reported on the high mortality rate associated with choking. Common choking hazards include:-

1. Grapes – whole grapes are a major choking hazard. Children should not eat whole grapes until they are well over the age of five. Grapes should be cut when served to children and they should be encouraged to chew their food.

2. Hard sweets – including cough drops, are a leading cause of choking. Hard sweets should never be given to young children. Gum is also not recommended.

3. Sausages – should be cut into small pieces when served to children. All foods should be cut into pieces smaller than 1/2 inch for children to ensure they are chewed properly and if swallowed whole will not block the oesophagus.

4. Nuts – Whole nuts/peanuts should not be given to children until they are at least seven years old. This includes popcorn. Small toys, and other hard round foods and objects are also choking hazards. This includes carrots, coins and marbles. Uninflated or broken balloons may also be a risk. Chewy foods like toffee and marshmallows can also cause choking.

I always recommend that that families have their children eat whilst sitting and avoid giving toddlers food while in the car. An adult should supervise eating and make sure their mouths are empty before they run off to play. Choking often occurs when toddlers run off with partially chewed food in their mouths. They will then laugh or talk, and inhale the last of that meal.

What is the up-to-date treatment for choking?

If you see someone choking it is very disconcerting and you are liable to panic if you do not know what to do. This is even more distressing in children and can easily happen to a child and this may occur very quickly and even silently if they are unable to alert you of the emergency. Obviously, it is essential to act fast by making sure that the child is choking and if so, on what? The aim is to eject the offending obstruction from the child by encouraging them to cough. Open their mouth and see if you can see what they have swallowed and try and use your finger to clear the foreign body out of the mouth. If they do succeed in ejecting the object, then make sure that they are recovered fully and it may be wise to take them to the GP.

If the obstruction is more severe the child will start to turn blue (cyanotic) and you will have to give five back slaps followed by five abdominal thrusts (but with not massive force) to try and expel the object. This can be repeated in several cycles but three is usually recommended. It is essential to get help at this point from emergency services 999 or 112. You may be faced with carrying out basic life support (CPR) which, if you have not been trained will be very difficult if you do not know the basics. Therefore, In the event of a choking episode, you should feel comfortable performing CPR and so it is highly recommended that everyone takes up a First Aid Emergency one day course at First Aid Partnership in Covent Garden, London.