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Children Are Swallowing Foreign Objects More Frequently, Study Finds

Category: Health & Fitness,Lifestyle

Foreign-body ingestions are common “in a general sense” among children under 6, Dr. Orsagh-Yentis said. In 2017, these ingestions were the fourth most common reason for calls to poison control centers in the United States for children in this age group, according to the National Poison Data System, and accounted for nearly 64,000 reports.

At Mount Sinai, Dr. Londino said he had noticed a trend where he and other doctors were “getting called more and more for foreign body removal.”

In the last six months, he said, he has removed a marble; the bottom half of a Lego man, “which was a challenge because of the shape”; and a coin — each from the esophagus.

Getting to the doctor quickly is critical for safe and successful extraction, he added, especially given how dangerous some objects can be.

According to the study, the most commonly ingested items were coins, most often pennies. In 2015, coins accounted for more than 58 percent of ingestions, and of all of the patients hospitalized during the two decades studied, nearly 80 percent had ingested coins.

Other types of objects ingested included toys, jewelry, nails, screws, hair products, magnets and Christmas decorations. Most of the ingestions occurred among children ages 1 to 3, the study said. Jewelry and hair products were disproportionately ingested by girls, whereas boys were more likely to ingest screws and nails.

The researchers used data obtained from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which reports on product-related injuries treated in emergency departments in about 100 hospitals the United States. The study said that because the data did not include children who were cared for by their primary care providers (nor those who made calls to poison-control centers or who didn’t seek medical treatment at all) the actual number of children who swallowed such objects may be larger.

Dr. Orsagh-Yentis said the study underscores the need for more vigilance and to keep unsafe products as safely stored as possible.

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