What to do if your children accidentally swallow something they shouldn't

ByDenise Dador via KABC logo
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
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Children's curiosities often lead them to accidentally swallowing objects they shouldn't. Here's what do to if this happens and how to prevent such incidents from happening in the first place.

Children's curiosities often lead them to accidentally swallowing objects they shouldn't.

According to a recent CDC report, the number of kids under 6 who accidentally swallowed foreign objects has doubled in the past two decades.

Dr. Eva Love is with Cleveland Clinic Children's. She says researchers have identified two items that were ingested more often than others.

"What they found was that about 800,000 kids - so almost a million kids - came in for foreign body ingestion," Love said. "And that, actually, the rate of ingestion was going up, particularly in two different arenas - which was coins and batteries."

Experts say coins are especially dangerous because they're everywhere, and it's easy for parents to see them and not think of them as deadly to a child.

But Love points out that coins can not only easily lodge in the airway but also in the esophagus.

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

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

The other reason button battery ingestion is especially dangerous is that the batteries can make holes in the esophagus and in the intestines. That can lead to tissue damage and even death.

Love says 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. So, if you have, for example, a button battery, that if it's screwed in - if it's really tightly screwed in - it doesn't mean that you should still leave it out - but making sure there's just, really, as little access as possible," she said.

Experts suggest that parents keep the number for the Poison Control Center on their cellphone, so it's handy at all times.

And call your doctor with any concerns - especially if you notice these symptoms in your child: coughing, gagging, trouble swallowing, drooling, chest pain, stomach pain, vomiting or problems going to the bathroom.

And if you suspect your child has swallowed something he or she shouldn't have, always call poison control right away, in addition to calling the child's doctor or 911.