Doctors share tips for preventing childhood choking hazards in UAE

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Researchers think that toddlers have the highest risk of getting food stuck in their throats
Toddlers are prone to choking, which is often caused by food, toys, and other small objects that get lodged in their windpipe.

According to a hospital in the UAE, children are swallowing chemicals and small electronic objects on an increasing basis. According to Emirates Health Services (EHS), Al Qassimi Women’s and Children’s Hospital admitted more than 50 children in one year, including children with severe digestive system injuries.

Batteries, magnets, nails, and chicken bones are among the most frequently swallowed objects by children, which experts have warned can cause serious harm.

Choking incidents are on the rise in the UAE, so parents are urged to take special measures not to let their children swallow foreign objects.

SSMC at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) in partnership with Mayo Clinic has partnered up with Dr Anas Abdalla Alshorman who is a neonatologist specialist.

The majority of unintentional injury deaths in the United States are caused by suffocation following foreign-body aspiration, said Alshoman. It is the leading cause of death among children younger than one-year-old.

In his opinion, approximately 80 per cent of cases of foreign body aspiration in children occur before the age of three, with the highest incidences occurring in children between the ages of one and two. They appear to have fine motor skills necessary to put objects into their mouths, but they lack the molars required to chew food adequately, may have uncoordinated or immature swallowing mechanisms, and have smaller airways.

Dr Alshoman says foreign body aspiration obstructs breathing and oxygenation and is life-threatening. As a result of long-term exposure to foreign bodies, acute hypoxia may also cause morbidity, chronic airway damage, lung infections, and abnormal breathing sounds.

According to Nazer Olakara, President of the Child Protection Trust, food gets stuck in the throats of children under four because of carelessness and fast eating. This is what he stated. Children may also be at risk because they don’t know how to chew food properly.”.

Food gets stuck in the throat of children when swallowed or eaten too fast, according to Olakara.

A full blockage of the throat occurs when food gets stuck in the throat. For a while, a clogged throat can interfere with oxygen flow. When there is a lack of oxygen during this time, blood flow to the brain and heart is reduced, resulting in unconsciousness and death,” said Olakara, adding that this can occur when the throat is completely blocked and in some cases may be partially closed as well.

If the small bronchis of the lungs have been blocked for some time, children may experience some symptoms, he said. They might include a persistent cough and pneumonia.

A child may experience the following symptoms if food gets stuck in his or her throat:

  • Incapable of speaking
  • Coughing that persists
  • Sweating excessively
  • The fingers and toes become blue
  • Unconscious
  • There is a risk of choking


Children can be protected from these choking hazards by keeping them away from:

Popcorn (whole kernels of corn, cooked or raw)

Tomatoes, uncut cherries or grapes

Fruit balls, grapes, berries and cherries that are uncut

Raw carrots or apples are good examples of hard raw vegetables or fruits

Cans of whole fruit

Raisins, vegetables, or fruits that have been dried

Tips for protecting children from choking hazards
Family members should at least be trained in pediatric first aid.

Always prop up babies or place them in a safe and stable position when feeding them. Don’t leave a young child alone while they eat.

Remove seeds and pip from food before cutting it up.

Small round foods to be wary of include nuts, whole grapes, olives, hot dogs, chocolate eggs with small toys inside, hard candy, popcorn, and raw carrots.

Do not leave coin stubs, balloons that have deflated, or balls lying around. They should be stored safely.

For younger children, avoid toys with small parts. Choose toys based on the appropriate age group.

Ensure that all infants’ sleeping areas are safe, with clean tight bedding and no stuffed animals.

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