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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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