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CDC: Number of kids swallowing objects has nearly doubled

Expert advises having poison control saved in cellphone

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Little children love to explore -- and sometimes their curiosity leads to swallowing objects that they shouldn’t.

According to a recent study, the number of kids under age six who accidentally swallowed foreign objects has doubled in the past two decades.

“What they found, was that about 800,000 kids -- so almost a million kids -- came in for foreign body ingestion,” said Dr. Eva Love, f Cleveland Clinic Children’s, who did not take part in the study. “And the rate of ingestion was going up, particularly for coins and batteries.” 

Love said coins are dangerous because they are so common, therefore it could be easy to look at them and not think that they can be deadly to a child.

But she said coins can not only easily lodge in the airway, but also in the eating tube.

Ingesting a coin can lead to impaction, which is what happens when the coin is not passed through the stool, and then has to be surgically removed.

The study also showed the number of button battery ingestions has risen by more than 90%.

Love said button battery ingestion is especially dangerous because the batteries can make holes in the eating tube and in the intestines, leading to tissue damage and even death.

She said parents need to be aware of what objects in their home contain button batteries, and always keep them out of a child’s reach.

“The number one recommendation made in the study was to make sure that you use some sort of child-proofing device,” Love said. “If you have a button battery, in a car key or another device, make sure that it’s really tightly screwed in. It doesn’t mean that you should still leave it out -- but make sure there is as little access as possible.” 

Love said parents should always have the number for poison control -- 1-800-222-1222 -- in a cellphone so that it’s handy at all times. 

If you suspect your child has swallowed a foreign object, always call poison control right away, in addition to calling the child’s doctor or 911.

Complete results of the study can be found in Pediatrics.