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Research Warn Parents That Grapes Pose A Choking Hazard

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Grapes are capable of blocking a child’s airway, and researchers say they are the third most common cause of mortality in food-related incidents. Doctors say a lack of awareness on this issue among parents and health care providers could be putting children at risk.

The size and shape of grapes means that they can lodge in a child’s throat. Grapes also produce a tight seal because of their smooth, flexible surface, making them difficult to unblock using first aid, The Guardian reports.

Studies from Canada and the US indicate that grapes are the third primary cause of food-related deaths, following hotdogs and sweets. And doctors and parents might not realize this threat, since only a small number of hospital cases are recorded annually. These numbers, researchers say, don’t reflect the direness of the situation – there might be more unreported near-misses.

Dr. Jamie Cooper, a consultant in emergency medicine at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, says,

We only see the tip of the iceberg, we only see it when it is not alleviated.

Cooper is also co-author of the study, which urges more attention to fruit hazards in the home.

The researchers presented a number of tragic cases that have happened in recent years, including one where a 17-month-old boy who choked on a grape at home.

Cooper adds, “The parents and other people were there and they did everything appropriately to try and dislodge the obstruction.” The attempts to remove the fruit failed, and the child was rushed to the nearest hospital. “Experienced people still failed to dislodge the obstruction with non-invasive first aid manoeuvres. A paramedic did attend but the child had gone into cardiac arrest before the grape was able to be removed. Everything was tried to resuscitate the child, but he died later.”

Cooper says that even older children are at risk. “It is not just tiny, little kids – we would suggest up to the age of five the kids are more at risk because they don’t chew as well, their swallowing is not quite as coordinated and they get distracted when they are eating.”

The researchers say parents should chop soft fruits like grapes and cherry tomatoes before giving them to kids, and supervise their children while eating. Further measures can be taken, Cooper says, “Ideally we would like supermarkets and big chains to consider putting some choking hazard warning labels on [grapes], just like they do on toys and other things.”

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