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Dangers of the 'Choking Game' and Other Risky Behaviors

For Release, April 16, 2012
​​​​​​​​​Approximately 5 to 11 percent of children and adolescents have participated in an activity commonly referred to as the “choking game,” in which blood and oxygen to the brain is cut off with a belt, rope or other item in order to get high or achieve a euphoric feeling once pressure is released. Not only is this activity dangerous, it can also be associated with additional risky behaviors, according to a study in the May 2012 issue of Pediatrics, “Health Risks of Eighth-Grade Participants in the ‘Choking Game’: Results From an Oregon Population-Based Survey” (published online April 16). Researchers examined data from the 2009 Healthy Teens survey, which questioned 5,348 eighth-graders on choking game awareness, lifetime prevalence and participation. Among Oregon youth, 6.1 percent have participated in the choking game. Participation was closely linked to increased sexual activity and substance use among both genders, along with poor nutrition and gambling among females, and increased violence among males. Black males were more likely to participate than white males, and Pacific Islanders had significantly higher participation rates (both males and females). Study authors feel that because these results are consistent with previous data, routine adolescent well visits provide a good opportunity for clinicians to assess youth about their awareness of the choking game, risks or signs of participation, and provide information about its dangers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.
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