Pretty much every parent has a child that is either going through or has gone through the phase where their kiddo puts everything in their mouth. It feels almost like a rite of passage to have your kid swallow something they shouldn't. Little kids are quick — in the split second it could take for you to sneeze, they could have swallowed something they shouldn't have. Swallowing a foreign object is something a kid can do, even with the most attentive caregiver. But a new study shows us that the number of kids going to the ER after swallowing a foreign object has actually increased.
According to the study, published in Pediatrics, the amount of children per 10,000 who are evaluated in emergency rooms has gone up 91.5 percent between 1995 and 2015. The study focuses on children under the age of six, which is kind of the prime age for kids to swallow foreign objects. Almost 30,000 cases spanning 20 years were reviewed. Using those cases, researchers were able to determine 759,074 kids have been evaluated in ERs for swallowing foreign objects.
While that may seem small, 9 in 10,000 kids were evaluated in 1995, compared to 18 in 10,000 in 2015. It may have taken 20 years, but the fact that the number doubled can be concerning.
“Children have easy access to these objects and children in this age group explore the world by putting things in their mouths,” says Dr.below in the study's video abstract.
One-year-olds seem to be one of the most common offenders. Approximately 21 percent of all cases are kids in that age range. When you think about it, that's actually not a surprise, given that one-year-olds are often discovering new things at that age. This may or may not come as a surprise, but the most frequent offenders are boys. A little over half (59.2%) of all cases were boys.
More often than not, kids can usually go home pretty quickly after being examined. Most foreign objects swallowed are actually pretty harmless, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.
As for the most common objects being swallowed, coins are by and large the most popular (61.7%.) Of that, pennies are the most commonly swallowed coin. Likely because pennies are often unconsciously strewn about. Toys are the next most popular (10.3%) and we can all assume that most of those toys are LEGOs.
The least commonly swallowed but most dangerous are batteries. Only 6.8% of cases were batteries, but they can do a lot of damage to a child's body if swallowed. Button batteries are the most common (85.9%) likely because they are most often used in electronics and small toys.
Dr. Orsagh-Yentis reminds parents to keep foreign objects, especially things with batteries and magnets (which can also be very damaging to children's bodies) out of children's reach. And if your kid shows any signs they're having difficulty breathing, like gagging, coughing, vomiting, or even stomach pains, don't hesitate to take them to the ER or their doctor.