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Study On Childhood Choking Incidents

A new study by researchers at Children's Hospital in Columbus shows more than 30 kids in the U.S. are treated each day in emergency departments for food-related choking. Mike Foley reports.

Health officials say choking remains a leading cause of injury among kids, especially those 4 years of age and younger. researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute in Columbus in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied nonfatal food-related choking among children 14 years of age or younger from 2001 through 2009. During the nine-year study period, more than 12-thousand children were treated each year in U.S. emergency departments for injuries from choking on food, about 34 kids each day.

According to the study,, hard candy caused the most choking incidents (15 percent), followed by other candy, meat - other than hot dogs and bones. Those four food types alone accounted for more than half of all the choking episodes in the study. More than 60 percent of the choking episodes occurred among children age four and under. the number of choking incidents decreased with increasing age until 7 years of age, then the number remained relatively unchanged through age 14. However, the study found that cases of choking involving candy increased with increasing age, and by age 4 years, more than half involved candy.

Center director Doctor Gary Smith suggests better monitoring of food-related choking incidents, placing warning labels on foods that pose a high choking risk, changing the design of foods consumed by children to reduce the risk of choking, and developing public awareness campaigns to educate parents about the danger of food-related choking among kids as ways to help reduce the number of choking episodes in the U-S.

Health experts say children under the age of five should not be given hard candies or gum, and raw fruits and vegetables - and especially hot dogs should be cut into small pieces. they also stress that Young children should be supervised while eating and should eat sitting down. the study has been published in the July online issue of "Pediatrics."

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.