Swallowed toys, batteries coins spark rise in ER visits

  • Swallowed toys, batteries coins spark rise in ER visits

Swallowed toys, batteries coins spark rise in ER visits

More than 755,000 children - an average of 99 per day - swallowed objects and were taken to ERs over the 20-year study period. Kids who swallowed coins were more likely to be hospitalized than children who ingested other objects - and quarters led to more hospitalizations than smaller coins.

Researchers have discovered a worrying trend.

The rate of kids going to emergency departments in the United States because they swallowed toys, coins, batteries, jewelry or other objects almost doubled over the past two decades, a new study finds.

In 1995, 22,000 children under the age of 6 were brought to the hospital after swallowing toys, coins, batteries, and other small objects. In comparison, in 2015, the number jumped to 43,000.

Over that same period, the annual rate of ER visits for these cases surged nearly 92 percent, from 9.4 to 17.9 incidents for every 10,000 children, researchers report in Pediatrics. The number of children seen in ERs after swallowing these types of objects has almost doubled over two decades, according to a new study.

"Children in this age group are prone to putting objects in their mouths", the authors explained, adding children are enticed by the colors, shapes and sizes of various objects. It is followed by toys, jewelry, and batteries.

Although batteries make up a small percentage of the cases, the researchers warned that ingesting the item carries the biggest risk.

"The sheer number of these injuries is cause for concern", said lead study author Dr. Danielle Orsagh-Yentis of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Orsagh-Yentis noted that an increasing number of consumer products use potentially risky button-sized batteries, including TV remotes, digital thermometers and remote-controlled toys, which likely contributed to the increase.

Only 10 percent of all children who were brought to emergency room visits for foreign object ingestion were admitted to the hospital for longer observations. Batteries and small high-powered magnets often marketed as desk toys for adults are among the most unsafe objects. The highest rates of hospitalizations occurred for children who swallowed coins.

Morag Mackay of Safe Kids Worldwide said that more research is needed to find out why cases are increasing.

Even so, the results should serve as a fresh reminder to parents that young kids can and do put all sorts of objects in their mouths, said Dr. Pamela Okada, medical director of the emergency department at Children's Health Plano and professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

"Try to see the world from a child's point of view by getting on the floor so that you are at your child's eye level".