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J Otolaryngol. 2004 Feb;33(1):37-41.

Foreign body aspiration in infants and toddlers: recent trends in British Columbia.

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Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology, British Columbia's Children's Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia.



The objectives of this study were to (1) examine recent trends in the demographics and presentation of children with foreign body aspiration at British Columbia's Children's Hospital and (2) develop safety guidelines regarding feeding nuts and other hard, crunchy foods to infants and toddlers.


The methods used were a retrospective chart review and a review of swallowing mechanics in early childhood.


Between July 1997 and July 2001, 51 children under 3 years of age underwent rigid bronchoscopy for suspected foreign body aspiration. Of these patients, 27 (53%) were 18 months of age or younger. Of these 27 infants and toddlers, 24 (89%) had a witnessed choking event and 22 (81%) had an airway foreign body. Nuts, raw carrots, and popcorn kernels accounted for 14 (64%) of the foreign bodies aspirated by these infants and toddlers. Before 2 years of age, children are poorly equipped to grind and swallow hard, crunchy food because they lack second molars and are still adjusting to the descent of the larynx.


Infants and toddlers in British Columbia have been aspirating foreign bodies at an alarmingly high rate. Most cases would have been prevented with better public awareness. Caregivers should be informed that children under 3 years of age should never be fed nuts or other hard, crunchy foods. A public awareness campaign is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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