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Kids and Foreign Body Ingestion

By Kate Gardner

I won't say which, but one of my kids was really interested in dog food as a baby. I can't count how many times I found this child nibbling at a bit of kibble. Fortunately, that's the weirdest thing any of them has eaten in our house, but kids have been known to eat some pretty crazy stuff. A new study in Pediatrics takes a closer look at the often serious topic of foreign body ingestion (also known as kids eating weird things).

Which kids are more likely to eat non-food items? The study examined 759,074 emergency room visits for foreign body ingestion from 1995 to 2015. Of course, occurrences of foreign body ingestions likely exceed this number as parents may seek care from their pediatrician or watch the child at home (for less serious objects). The data collected showed that boys were slightly more likely to ingest a foreign body than girls. As well, children under the age of 1 were more likely than other age groups to ingest a foreign body (or at least they were more likely to be seen in the emergency room for it). 

What are they eating? Coins were by far the most likely thing to be ingested. They were followed by toys, jewelry, and batteries. Interestingly, pennies were the most likely coin for a child to eat. 

What should you do? Fortunately, a majority of kids who were seen in the emergency room for ingesting a foreign body were released. However, it's good to know what to do if you think your kid has eaten something weird and these tips from the Cleveland Clinic can help. 

  • If your child eats something benign (not harmful) - Benign items include gum, clay, and toys with rounded edges. If your child swallows something like this, it is okay to let the item work its way through your child's digestive system. Call your doctor if you have any questions and watch your child for symptoms such as coughing, gagging, drooling, chest or stomach pain, throwing up, or problems going to the bathroom. If your child has eaten a large quantity of something benign (like clay), call your doctor.     

  • If your child eats something harmful - If your child eats a toy or other item with sharp edges, coins, batteries, or magnets, take them to the emergency room. Batteries and magnets both pose significant health risk when swallowed.  

If you're not sure what you're child swallowed or if it is dangerous, err on the side of caution and call the doctor. And remember: Prevention is important. Keep all batteries and magnets away from small children. A good rule of thumb is to keep them off the floor.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, visit your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Dacula, Ga.

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