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A report out of the UK reminds us why it’s never, EVER okay to feed a young child whole grapes.

The report, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, shares how at least three kids (ages 5 and younger) choked after eating the fruit whole. Tragically, two of those young children died.

  • In the first case, a 5-year-old choked on a grape at an after-school club. When efforts to dislodge the piece of fruit failed, he went into cardiac arrest and, sadly, passed away.

 

  • In the second case, a 17-month-old choked on a grape at home. His family couldn’t remove it and called for help. A paramedic was able to remove the grape but this little boy also, sadly died.

 

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  • In the third case, a 2-year-old began to choke on a grape at a park but the paramedics arrived in time to help him. Still, the little boy suffered seizures and brain swelling, and ended up spending five days in the ICU. He did make a full recovery.

 

“There is general awareness of the need to supervise young children when they are eating… but knowledge of the dangers posed by grapes and other similar foods is not widespread,” authors Dr. Jamie Cooper and colleague Dr. Amy Lumsden said, according to HealthDay.

According to the report, food accounts for more than half of choking deaths among kids under the age of 5.

The worst culprits are hot dogs, candy, and of course whole grapes.

Experts urge parents and caregivers that grapes—and similarly-sized cherry tomatoes—”should be chopped in half and ideally quartered before being given to young children [aged 5 and under].”

NHS Health Scotland has revised its guidance, given free to all parents in pregnancy, to clearly highlight the potential choking hazard posed by grapes and cherry tomatoes and the importance of the need to ‘halve or chop small fruit, nuts and vegetables like cherry tomatoes and grapes.

cut grapes

Previously we have shared a UK Mother’s warning to parents to ALWAYS slice grapes after her two year old son almost choked to death.

Sophie Jackson, 24, said her son, Jake, turned blue and purple after the grape became lodged in his throat. Read more here.

This alarming x-ray shows how important it is for parents to be vigilant about food even as your children get older. See it here.

grape xray

Kidsafe recommend, “choking on food or a small object may occur at all ages. However, it is a particular problem for young children 0–4 years due to their small breathing tubes (airways) and the fact that they are still developing their teeth and the ability to chew and swallow.

Young children are most at risk of choking on some foods because their incisor teeth erupt 10 months to 2 years before the second molars (at 20–30 months). Thus there is a period of time that children are able to bite off portions of food without being able to fully grind the food before they swallow it.

The most common types of food that young children choke on are nuts, popcorn, corn chips, whole grapes, hard or sticky lollies, foods that have small and hard pieces (such as raw carrot, celery or apple), foods with tough skin such as sausages and hotdogs, and stringy meats such as chicken and steak.

Young children commonly place small objects into their mouth as a means of exploring the world around them. These can be small items such as buttons, batteries, coins, parts from toys, marbles, pen tops, and other small round objects.”

Prevention of choking via Kidsafe

Some useful advice to consider when preparing food for young children is:

  • Avoid pieces of raw carrot, celery sticks and chunks of apple (for example). These foods can instead be grated, par boiled so they are slightly softer, or mashed.
  • Sausages, frankfurts and other meats with coarse outer skins should be cut into small pieces and the skin/fat removed. Stringy meats such as chicken and steak also need to be cut into small pieces or minced.
  • Do not give popcorn, nuts, whole grapes, hard lollies, corn chips or other similar foods to young children.

Because the environment in which children eat also has an impact on safe eating, it is important to:

  • Always stay with your young child.
  • Make sure that your young child sits quietly while eating.
  • Never force your young child to eat, as this may cause them to choke.

What to do if a young child chokes via Kidsafe

  • Check first if the child is still able to breathe, cough or cry.
  • If the child IS breathing, coughing or crying, the child may be able to dislodge the food by coughing:
    Check the child’s mouth for food; remove any food that you can see (scoop it out with your fingers).
  • Stay with the child and watch to see if their breathing improves.
  • If coughing has not removed the food and your child is not breathing easily, phone 000 for an ambulance
  • Give up to 5 sharp blows between the shoulder blades using the heal of your hand.
  • Check the child’s mouth after each back blow and remove any food.

If the child is still not breathing, commence CPR. The ambulance service operator will be able to tell you what to do next.

Share your comments below.

  • This would be a frightening ordeal to go through and very tragic for the parents and families.

    Reply

  • I find this hard to believe, there must be another explanation about the reason why they choked on grapes. I used to give my son grapes before he could walk, he use to sit happily chewing the grapes and never had any issues. Never thought he could choke.

    Reply

  • I never knew this when my boys were small but I used to peel them and remove any seeds. There was no actual reason. I just thought the skin was too tough for them. Now I’m glad I did this even though some people thought I was silly.

    Reply

  • There does seem to have been a recent rash of incidents like this.

    Reply

  • This is frightening. My son is now a teen but this was never an issue or a consideration that he could choke on a grape. To hear so many cases now is so concerning.

    Reply

  • This is quite concerning. I guess at that age kids are still grasping the biting and chewing properly concept.
    I think parents need to be mindful what they give their children and how it is served to them.

    Reply

  • I had never heard about this….. used to eat grapes off the bunch from very young and thankfully no problems…. but I shall never do that again.. sombre warning … wont be doing that with the grandkids! In fact when I’m elderly probably will think twice too!

    Reply

  • I always cut my kids grapes but as above it said ‘no’ which was the way I was told to cut them! Will definitely cut them the right way from now on.

    Reply

  • Some 5 year olds have lost one or more of their front baby teeth, have a gap and therefore don’t bite food properly before chewing it. It is also known that a lot of children don’t chew properly until the age of about 7 y.o. because of losing teeth and getting new ones during that time.

    Reply

  • Oh my!

    Reply

  • So very sad. And yes, I still cut the grapes for my nearly 5 year old.

    Reply

  • my hubby refuses to believe me, like his mother he knows better than everyone

    Reply

  • I was always too paranoid as a kid that I would swallow seeds and have grapes, watermelon etc grow in my tummy. Very silly thoughts now that I reflect but it kept me safe

    Reply

  • You would think a 5 yo would know to chew before swallowing. Not an issue when mine were little, but if it keeps kids safe, I’m all for it

    Reply

  • This is so tragic! Widely known to be a serious issue with young children yet it still happens ….

    Reply

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