Choking Hazards

In 2000, 160 children died from choking related episodes and another 17,537 were treated. Of the children treated, 60% choked on a food item. Candy and gum were the cause of 25% of the choking episodes and in children under the age of four coins made up 18% of the choking-related episodes. The rates were highest for children under the age of one and decreased with age up to fourteen. The statistics were compiled by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program and analyzed by the CDC.

Surprisingly enough many parents and caregivers do not recognize potential choking hazards. Three medical facilities in Atlanta did a study showing ten common food and household items to about 100 different caregivers of children between the ages of one and four. The caregivers were asked to identify the items that were a potential choking hazard. The ten items were: a whole grape, a small hot dog, some raw carrot, hard candy, a latex balloon, a pen, a marble, a coin, a cracker, and a rubber duck

The results of the test were not good.

  • More than 40% did not realize a whole grape was dangerous.
  • 35% felt that hot dogs were safe.
  • Nearly 30% didn’t identify the carrot chunk as a hazard.
  • 25% did not see latex balloons as a choking danger.
  • Overall food items were not identified correctly 30% of the time and 13% of the time for nonfood objects.

“Round, firm foods pose a considerably higher choking hazard in children under the age of four and need to be restricted,” says Jennifer Adu-Frimpong, MD, the lead author of the study.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics these items are the top choking hazards for children under age 4:

Food items

  • Hot dogs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Chunks of meat or cheese
  • Whole grapes
  • Hard, sticky candy
  • Popcorn
  • Chunks of peanut butter
  • Raw vegetables
  • Chewing gum

Nonfood items

  • Latex balloons
  • Coins
  • Marbles
  • Toys with small parts
  • Toys that fit into a child’s mouth
  • Small balls
  • Pen or marker caps
  • Small button batteries
  • Medicine syringes

Children are more likely to choke for three reasons. First, their airways are smaller than an adult’s so an object can easily block the flow of air. Second, the muscles in their throat are not as developed, causing more problems with swallowing. Third, children have less lung volume so they don’t have the push that adults do to expel items blocking the windpipe.

Choking is something that in many cases can be prevented. It is all a matter of knowing what items are potential choking hazards then doing your best to prevent your child from eating or playing with the items.

Stay tuned for my upcoming blog on how to Prevent Your Child From Choking.

See these related blogs:

Your Baby & Holiday Hazards

Parents Beware The Hidden Danger In Some Kids Toys

Danger! Foods For Your Baby to Avoid

Toy Cars Recalled for Choking Hazard

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About Teresa McEntire

Teresa McEntire grew up in Utah the oldest of four children. She currently lives in Kuna, Idaho, near Boise. She and her husband Gene have been married for almost ten years. She has three children Tyler, age six, Alysta, four, and Kelsey, two. She is a stay-at-home mom who loves to scrapbook, read, and of course write. Spending time with her family, including extended family, is a priority. She is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and currently works with the young women. Teresa has a degree in Elementary Education from Utah State University and taught 6th grade before her son was born. She also ran an own in-home daycare for three years. She currently writes educational materials as well as blogs for Although her formal education consisted of a variety of child development classes she has found that nothing teaches you better than the real thing. She is constantly learning as her children grow and enjoys sharing that knowledge with her readers.