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Rates of Children Age 5 and Under Swallowing Foreign Objects Has Risen Significantly


Young children are prone to swallowing foreign objects, and despite actions taken to make toys, batteries and magnets safer for children, the rate of children treated in emergency departments for ingesting objects has risen significantly over two decades, according to a study in the May 2019 Pediatrics. The study, “Foreign Body Ingestions of Young Children Treated in U.S. Emergency Departments: 1995-2015” (published April 12 online), analyzed data provided by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.  More than 755,000 children under age 6 -- an average of 99 children per day --   were evaluated in emergency departments for foreign body ingestion over the study period. Coins were the most common object ingested, followed by toys, jewelry and batteries -- the majority of which were button batteries. While many ingested items are able to pass through the gastrointestinal tract, some can cause serious harm. Overall, the study found a 4.4-percent annual increase in the rate of foreign body ingestions by children. AAP recommends continued education about keeping products out of children’s reach; ensuring that child-resistant packaging is utilized; and keeping particularly dangerous products off the markets.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 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 and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds