Hard candy is the leading cause of choking in kids

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Hard candy is certainly tasty, but a new study has been published in Pediatrics explaining why parents should be cautious with the treat. According to Gary Smith, MD, of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues, hard candy is the leading cause of nonfatal choking injuries in children ages 0 to 14.

On average, 12,345 children are treated in an emergency department because of choking on a food item. The average age of children treated for non-fatal food-related choking was 4.5 years. Children under one year of age accounted for 37.8 percent of choking episodes. Furthermore, boys were more likely to be involved in choking episodes than girls. The most prevalent item found to have caused the choking was hard candy, followed by other types of candy, meat and bone. While restrictions have been put in place to prevent choking on small toys, there is little regulation on foods.

Parents are urged to be more cautious when providing their kids with hard candy in light of this information. ACSH s Ariel Savransky points out another consideration. There s a huge age range of kids involved in this study - ages 0 to 14 years old. Parents should be aware that there are differences between a kid who is just starting to eat solid foods and a 14 year old. A child who has just started eating solid foods may not have mastered the skills involved with chewing and swallowing so it s important to be extra careful around that age.