Little children love to explore — and sometimes their curiosity leads to swallowing objects they shouldn’t.
According to a recent study in “Pediatrics” from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the number of kids age 6 and younger who accidentally swallow foreign objects has doubled in the past two decades.
“What they found was that about 800,000 kids — so almost a million kids — came in for foreign body ingestion,” says Dr. Eva Kubiczek-Love of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, who did not take part in the study. “And the rate of ingestion was going up, particularly for coins and batteries.”
Love says coins are dangerous because they are so common, therefore it could be easy to look at them and not think that they can be deadly to a child.
However, she adds coins can not only easily lodge in the airway, but also in the eating tube.
Ingesting a coin can lead to impaction, which is what happens when the coin is not passed through the stool, and then has to be surgically removed.
The study also showed the number of button battery ingestions has risen by more than 90 percent.
Love says button battery ingestion is especially dangerous because the batteries can make holes in the eating tube and in the intestines, leading to tissue damage and even death.
She says parents need to be aware of what objects in their home contain button batteries, and always keep them out of a child’s reach.
“The number one recommendation made in the study was to make sure that you use some sort of child-proofing device,” Love says. “If you have a button battery, in a car key or another device, make sure that it’s really tightly screwed in. It doesn’t mean that you should still leave it out — but make sure there is as little access as possible.”
She says parents should always have the number for poison control in a cell phone (800-222-1222) so that it’s handy at all times.
If you suspect your child has swallowed a foreign object, always call poison control right away, in addition to calling the child’s doctor or 9-1-1.
Complete results of the study can be found in “Pediatrics.”
— Submitted by Cleveland Clinic News Service.