Choking is a leading cause of injury and death among children, especially those younger than 4 years of age. The majority of choking-related incidents among children are associated with food, coins and toys. A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), led by a doctor at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and published in the February 22 online issue of Pediatrics, takes a closer look at preventing choking among children.
On average, a child will die every 5 days in the United States from choking on food. However, too little attention is paid by government agencies and food manufacturers to minimizing choking risks. Although some food manufacturers voluntarily place warning labels on high risk products, more work needs to be done to implement safety standards for all high risk foods in regard to choking.
“We have laws and regulations in this country that require warning labels to be placed on toys that pose choking hazards, and we have systems that monitor and recall consumer products that pose a risk,” said the policy’s lead author Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “However, there are no such regulations on high risk foods - and children are much more likely to put food in their mouths than a toy.”
According to the policy statement, the AAP recommends:
Warning labels on foods that pose a high choking risk
A recall of food products that pose a significant choking hazard
The establishment of a nationwide food-related choking-incident surveillance and reporting system
A commitment from food manufacturers to design new food and redesign existing food to minimize choking risk, to the extent possible
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