ER Visits For Toddlers Swallowing Small Objects Have Doubled In 10 Years

Shuttertstock image via Marko Poplasen

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter
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Emergency room visits for young children who swallowed small objects including batteries and magnets more than doubled between 1995 and 2015, according to a study published Friday in the journal Pediatrics.

The number jumped from 22,000 visits for children under the age of 6 in 1995 to 43,000 in 2015, the study said according to The Associated Press.

Experts are not sure why the rate of ER visits for kids who swallowed items has gone up from 10 per 10,000 visits to 18 per 10,000. Dr. Danielle Orsagh-Yentis, the study’s lead author and a gastrointestinal physician, said it might have something to do with more common household items like television remotes using button-sized batteries, reported the AP. (RELATED: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio Orders Vaccinations Amid Measles Outbreak)

Other objects kids can swallow include coins and toys. Magnets can be especially dangerous. If a child swallows more than one, the magnets can tear holes in the stomach lining to get to one another. That can lead to blood poisoning and be life-threatening, according to The Cleveland Clinic.

A child plays with a toy. Shutterstock image via Mama Belle and the kids

A child plays with a toy. Shutterstock image via Mama Belle and the kids

The study analyzed a U.S. database of non-fatal emergency room visits for children under 6 and found nearly 800,000 children were treated for swallowing items between 1995 and 2015. Ninety percent of them were able to return home without hospitalization, according to the AP.

Vomiting or abdominal pain can be a sign a child swallowed something that will require medical attention. Batteries are also dangerous to swallow because they can chemically react in the child’s body and burn through tissue.

Scientists also warn that children should have limited screen time. The first wave of data from a National Institute of Health (NIH) study found kids exposed to screens — like those on smartphones and tablets — for more than two hours a day had lower scores on thinking and language tests.

Newborn babies are born with a number of quirks and abilities that outpace full-grown humans and change as they grow into toddlers.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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