ER Visits Doubled for Young Kids Because of This…
American children are going to the emergency room more than ever before from swallowing dangerous items. According to The New York Times, a recent study published last week in the journal Pediatrics revealed that the number of children under 6 who were medically seen for swallowing toys, coins, magnets, batteries, and other small objects has almost doubled in a 20 year period; 43,000 emergency room visits in 2015 compared to the 22,000 in 1995.
Authors of the study and health experts describe the uptick in these terrifying accidents as alarming and are warning parents to stay alert. All parents and guardians should be educated on the life-threatening dangers ingesting these small items can cause to a child and how to reduce access to products that could contain harmful pieces to decrease the number of tragic injuries.
The Most Dangerous Items To Swallow
Young children will put almost anything in their mouth, especially if the items even remotely resemble a piece of candy or food. While some things children ingest are simply disgusting, other small items are causing catastrophic and fatal consequences. According to the National Poison Control Center, these are the most dangerous items children can ingest:
- Small Batteries: Many products now contain a small button or coined shaped lithium batteries that can fall out or be easily removed by children depending on the item. Batteries can burn a hole in a child’s throat or esophagus in just two hours, which can lead to the need for assisted breathing and feeding machines, complicated surgeries, and extensive rehabilitation.
- Magnets: Children can easily swallow small magnets from toys or adult products. Magnets can stick together through body tissues, including the intestines, which can lead to a loss in blood supply, infection, and internal bleeding.
- Children’s Jewelry: Chewing on a bracelet and necklace pendant is tempting and dangerous for children. Some jewelry (particularly cheap products) contain harmful ingredients that not only can become lodged in the throat, but cause serious damage to the body. In 2010, a Disney necklace from ‘The Princess and The Frog’ movie was recalled because it contained cadmium- a product that can cause kidney and bone damage when swallowed.
- Coins: Contrary to popular belief, coins do not always pass on their own. At least 80 percent of surgeries needed for children who swallowed foreign object involved coins. These little ones can do serious damage if left in the body. For instance, pennies made after 1982 carry high amounts of zinc and low amounts of copper. Zinc can eat away at the stomach lining and cause bleeding ulcers and vomiting when ingested.
- Small Toys and Plastic Pieces: One of the biggest concerns with children swallowing small plastic items is choking. If the item is big enough, it can lodge in the airway. Even if the object is small enough to pass through, if it is sharp, it can cause damage to internal organs.
What’s Causing The Uptick Visits
Unfortunately, more research is required to determine why there has been a dramatic increase in emergency room visits for swallowing incidents in children. Some of the theories for the upward trend include:
- Battery Changes: More and more consumer products (including toys) are moving away from the standard alkaline batteries to opt for the lithium coin-sized batteries that are easy for kids to swallow. According to com, these small batteries are known for holding an extended charge and make items more portable. Because more of these items are hitting the market, the need to keep replacements around the house has grown which has also increased children’s access to products that contain them.
- Cheaper Products: Kids toys have become more complicated and cheap. Not only are they coming with hundreds of little pieces, but poor quality toys can easily fall apart and expose children to small items that fit perfectly in their mouths. Even though toys have age limits, young children with older siblings or who receive items inappropriate for their age can swallow harmful pieces faster than the time it takes for a parent to notice they are dangerous.
- Children Have More Toys: Modern day children have far more toys than children in the past. The increase in toys has also increased the number of chances children have to choke or become injured when swallowing small items or pieces. Every occasion has become a gifting occasion for our youth and it can be hard to keep track of which toys are safe when so many are entering our homes every year.
Don’t Ignore These Symptoms
Old wives tales encourage parents that what goes in must come out- don’t take this advice. According to the Cleveland Clinic, if your child is displaying any of the following symptoms after swallowing an item, seek medical attention immediately:
- excessive drooling;
- stomach pain;
- trouble swallowing; and
- problems going to the bathroom.
If your child swallows a dangerous item such as a battery, magnet, or coin, do not wait for symptoms to arise before calling your doctor and visiting the emergency room. If you did not see your child swallow these items, and have some reason to believe they did, seeking medical attention is much safer than waiting it out.
How To Reduce Swallowing Accidents
Parents cannot keep an eye on what their child is popping in their mouth every second of the day. Prevention is one of the only techniques parents can use to help reduce the risk of swallow injuries around their home. These recommendations can help get you started:
- Keep all batteries out of reach;
- Tightly secure the battery compartment on items such as key fobs, remotes, cameras, watches, flameless candles, and all other products using small batters. If it cannot be secured, keep it out of reach;
- Get on your kids level. Anything they can put in their mouth should be removed or placed in a secure location out of their reach;
- Do not allow your children to chew on items that have batteries, magnets, or detachable pieces. Avoiding these products at all cost is ideal;
- Pay attention to the age limits on toys- they are there for a reason; and
- Closely monitor your children whey they are exploring and playing.
For battery incidents, studies published by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have shown that eating honey after ingesting a battery can increase your child’s risk for a safe recovery. Consider keeping honey around the house by your first items for emergency circumstances.
NYC and Long Island Accident Attorneys
If your child has been injured in an accident, the law firm of Siler & Ingber is here to support your family’s rights. Call our team of New York City and Long Island accident attorneys at 877-529-4343 for a free consultation, or reach out online anytime to discuss your case today.