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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to protect children from toy-related choking hazards

As we all prepare to unwrap presents this holiday season, parents should pay close attention to the new toys their children receive. Items that appear kid-friendly could actually be hazardous to a child's health.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, toy-related injuries are on the rise. The CPSC reported an estimated 186,000 emergency room-treated injuries related to toys in 2009. Last year, choking was among the leading causes of toy-related deaths. Small toys and toy fragments can easily become lodged inside a child’s throat, obstructing their airway.

How do you know if a toy poses a choking hazard? Kaiser Permanente Georgia Pediatrician David W. Jones, M.D. offers the following tips:
  •  Pay attention to the labels on toys. Many toys are manufactured for specific age groups. Only allow children to play with age-appropriate toys. Toys intended for older children may contain small parts that pose a choking hazard for younger children.
  • Children under the age of three have a tendency to put everything in their mouths. So, infants, toddlers and young children should not have toys that are small enough to be inserted into their mouths. Also, be mindful of toys that contain small parts, such as buttons, that can be removed by pulling or twisting.
  • Avoid giving children balls or marbles with a diameter of 1.75 inches or less, which can block a child's airway
  • Never allow children of any age to play with deflated or broken balloons due to the choking danger
  • Be an active participant in your child’s playtime. It will give you the opportunity to bond with your child, while supervising his/her play.
Dr. Jones practices pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente’s Panola and Stonecrest medical offices, where is also the managing physician. 

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