In a recent article published in Archives of Disease in Childhood, authors discuss the choking risk grapes pose for young children. The authors urge for greater caution when feeding young children these types of foods.
Choking is a leading cause of death in young children below the age of 3 years. Their smaller airways, incomplete dentition, lack of swallowing coordination, and easy distractibility make them particularly susceptible to choking.
The physical properties of the inhaled item also contribute to their risk of becoming lodged in the airway. Harder items are more likely to become dislodged from the upper airway through first-aid techniques, such as the Heimlich maneuver. Harder items are also more likely to pass into one of the lungs, which may cause some respiratory distress, but not complete obstruction.
Larger, round items, such as grapes, can completely block the airway, which can be fatal. In addition to their size, their softness allows the grape to be more malleable, and thus can become wedged in the airway, creating a tight seal that can be difficult to dislodge through first-aid techniques.
With grapes being the third greatest food-choking hazard in small children, next to hot dogs and candies, the authors of a new article published in Archives of Disease in Childhood implore greater precautions when feeding young children. They recommend that soft, large, round items, such as grapes and cherry tomatoes, be chopped into quarters. The authors also promote the swift removal of the blockage through first-aid maneuvers; however, they indicate that in some choking cases, maneuvers were performed by both caretakers and medical professionals with no success. Laryngoscopy, which requires specific equipment and training, was required for object removal. It is, therefore, recommend that prevention, as opposed to intervention, is the best strategy to address choking on these types of food items in young children.
Written By: Nicole Pinto, HBSc