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Pediatric choking

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:45 pm
Choking is the most common cause of accidental death in children under age one, and the danger remains significant until age five. In children, it frequently may be caused by a liquid that 'goes down the wrong pipe,' which isn't usually harmful. It can become life-threatening when a child swallows or inhales an object that blocks air to the lungs. When this happens, have someone else call 9-1-1 while you administer first aid. If the child is coughing but able to breathe, let the child cough. If the child is under a year old and is conscious (CON-chuss), place face down and head down along your forearm or over your lap, trunk firmly supported. With the heel of your other hand, give up to five blows to the back between the shoulder blades, trying to expel the obstruction. If that doesn't work, turn the child over, and using two fingers, make quick thrusts over the breastbone until the object is dislodged. Remove a foreign object from the infant's mouth only if you can see it and it's accessible. If not breathing, give mouth-to-mouth breathing. If the infant is unconscious and not breathing, give mouth-to-mouth, then do the face-down, head-down procedure mentioned previously. If the child is over a year old, apply the Heimlich (HIME-lick) maneuver until the foreign body comes out, or turn over and do the same. If this doesn't work, open the mouth and try to see and remove the object. If the child doesn't start breathing, give mouth-to-mouth. Continue to repeat these steps as you call for emergency medical help. First-aid courses sponsored by such organizations as the Red Cross can help you learn techniques so you can act quickly in an emergency.
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