Category 1: Weird things kids have swallowed
Nick Veasey for Reader's Digest
When it comes to swallowing things they shouldn’t, kids are common offenders. “Babies and early toddlers explore the world in many ways, including putting things in their mouths,” says Karthik Balakrishnan, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology at the Mayo Clinic. “They don’t know what should go in and what shouldn’t so things can accidentally be swallowed.” While buttons and coins are common, his practice has also seen children swallow Barbie shoes, safety pins, latex balloons, and part of a hearing aid mold. Cases in which children swallow multiple magnets are especially difficult because magnets that end up in different spots of the intestines can attract to each other through the tissue, making removal difficult. One eight-year-old swallowed about 30 pieces of a Magnetix set that caused eight intestinal tears, according to Mental Floss. The list of objects kids have swallowed is so varied, Boston Children’s Hospital has erected a display of odd things that have been removed from children dating back to 1918, according to STAT News, which includes a sardine tin key, chicken claw, and a 1940 reelection pin for Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Category 2: Button batteries
One particular object is so dangerous, it deserves a category of its own. “For kids, we worry most about button batteries,” says Kevin Rodgers, MD, president of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. “The newer ones are lithium with a relatively high voltage. When they get stuck in the esophagus they can cause significant burns and even perforate the esophagus.” Such was the case with a 3-year-old whose parents called Poison Control when he swallowed a button battery, resulting in an emergency procedure, hospital stay, and the need to eat through a nasogastric tube for two weeks. If a child is suspected of swallowing a button battery, go to the emergency room immediately, as it needs to be removed within two hours. Here are other real-life lessons from poison control centers.