Grapes are “ideally suited” to block a young child’s airway and are the third most common cause of food-related choking, after hot dogs and sweets, doctors have warned.
While there is “widespread awareness” of the choking risk posed by small toys, warning labels are “routinely absent” on some food packaging, according to an article in the peer-reviewed medical journal, Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Grapes may pose a greater risk in some cases compared with small hard objects or foods, because their smooth, malleable surface is more likely to “form a tight seal” in the child’s throat, according to report authors Dr Jamie Cooper and Dr Amy Lumsden.
The Aberdeen-based medics said: “Grapes are a popular food with young children, but are ideally suited to cause obstruction of a paediatric airway and are the third most common cause of food-related fatal choking episodes after hotdogs and sweets.”
The pliable nature of the fruit makes it “very difficult to dislodge with first aid manoeuvres”, they added.
The paper cited three different case studies — including that of a 17-month-old boy who died after choking while eating sandwiches and fruit at home with his family — as evidence of the dangers that can be posed by the snacks parent choose to give their children.
Another involved a two-year-old child becoming unresponsive despite attempts to clear his airway with the Heimlich manoeuvre. Thankfully, he recovered after a paramedic performed a direct laryngoscopy.
The article concluded: “There is a general awareness of the need to supervise young children when they are eating, and to get small solid objects, and some foods such as nuts, promptly out of the mouths of small children.
“But knowledge of the dangers posed by grapes and other similar foods is not widespread.”
Halving or quartering grapes, or similar foods such as cherry tomatoes, was advised to avoid fatal choking.
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