As a mom-to-be, I've already started paying more attention to children's health issues than I used to. One article that caught my eye today was about a call from the American Academy of Pediatrics for the FDA to require warning labels on foods that are choking hazards. Apparently, many Americans are not aware of the dangers posed by some common foods.
I was certainly among those in the dark. Granted, I've only just begun learning about the care of newborns and beyond, so maybe this is common knowledge to experienced parents, but I was surprised by some of the foods that should not be given to children younger than four or five, including raw carrots, marshmallows, and popcorn. Apparently, the physiology of a young child's mouth means that, even if they chew these items, they end up swallowing unchewed chunks that can easily cause choking.
According to the Academy, the top ten food choking hazards for young children are:
-fish with bones
Not all of these items are completely prohibited-they should just be cut into very small pieces and fed with care. The danger in many of them is that they are compressible and shaped similarly to a child's airway, meaning they can easily get stuck and completely prevent breathing. Hot dogs, for example, should NOT be cut into coin-shaped pieces, which makes them more dangerous than if left whole. Instead, cut the hot dog lengthwise before slicing it crosswise, to produce smaller pieces. Peanut butter is also a problem because its consistency means that it can completely fill the airway, so it should be avoided. The others that should be completely avoided until age four or five are peanuts, hard candies, gumballs and, as I mentioned above, popcorn, raw carrots, and marshmallows.
To parents: Were you aware of these choking hazards? Do you think foods such as carrots should carry warning labels like toys do?
By Sarah Kagan
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