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Be Well

Food-related choking cases higher than thought

Choking is the leading cause of injury among children, and a nationwide study suggests that the number of food-related choking cases among children that lead to emergency room visits is higher than previously thought.

Researchers looked at data from ER visits between 2001 and 2009 among children ages 14 and younger. An estimated 12,400 children a year were treated for choking, which is equivalent to 34 children a day. The authors said that’s higher than previously reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The most prominent source of choking was hard candy, accounting for about 16 percent of cases, while 12 percent of choking cases involved meat and bones. Many of the cases involved known risky foods such as hot dogs, seeds, and nuts. Children up to age 4 were at the highest risk for choking, and boys were slightly more likely than girls to choke.

Labeling foods as high choking risks for children and educating parents about potentially risky foods may help prevent cases, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: The number of food-related choking cases among children that lead to emergency room visits is higher than previously thought.

CAUTIONS: The data do not include cases of food-related choking that are resolved outside of the hospital, and they do not show whether the number of ER visits due to choking is rising.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Pediatrics, August 2013

Low-income mothers stressed by limited access to diapers

A significant number of low-income mothers say a major source of stress is their limited access to diapers, according to a survey by researchers at Yale University and the National Diaper Bank Network.

More than 800 low-income pregnant women and mothers living in New Haven completed a survey on their mental health, basic needs, and their health care. Nearly 30 percent of mothers reported having an inadequate amount of diapers. Of those cases, nearly 8 percent reported stretching out diaper use, which could lead to urinary infections and diaper rash in children. Women who reported having sought mental health treatment were more likely to report limited diaper supply compared with women who did not report having mental health needs, the study found.

Since a majority of the mothers reported that their children had a doctor who knows them well, the researchers say doctors might ask about diaper access to screen for potential health problems in children as well as the mother’s mental health status.

BOTTOM LINE: A significant number of low-income mothers say a major source of stress is their limited access to diapers.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on self-report so the results may not be accurate. The mental health status of the women was not confirmed using medical records or any diagnostic tools.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Pediatrics, August 2013

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