Ingestion of foreign bodies in children

Foreign bodies being ingested by toddlers and children have been an occurrence that is rampant throughout the world. In general, children belonging to the age range of 6 months to 3 years are ones that are known to ingest foreign particles. Medical attention is given to most cases who have been reported by parents or someone who may have witnessed them swallowing something that appeared like a foreign body. Most of these children are asymptomatic or have symptoms that are transient at the point of ingestion.
Children have a tendency to put everything in their line of sight into their mouths to feel it and it is almost impossible to child-proof one’s house completely as there will always be something that they might intake in any case. Even after having your house, the daycares made child-proof, there is still a great possibility of your child ingesting something that he/she might be playing with such as an eraser, torn part of a nipple, hair clips, chalk, pencil shards, etc.
Let us further discuss the risks, diagnosis, and management for such situations in detail.
Background
The background of these cases must be considered to detect and understand such situations. Children with psychiatric conditions or any mental anomaly may ingest foreign objects voluntarily without the awareness of their consequences. Unsupervised children below the age of 4 years are likely to eat or swallow foreign bodies too. The ingestion of any foreign particle is unlikely to cause grave damage to the child as it is highly likely to be excreted eventually, but the risk lies if the foreign bodies get lodged in their esophagus by any chance which would need immediate attention.

Main points
• Most of these cases of ingestions hold little or no risk to the child’s life and can be managed first hand.
• Consumption of button batteries and magnets may pose a direct threat to the child’s life and can prove to be fatal.
• Foreign objects bigger than 6cm and wider than 2.5cm have a high risk of getting stuck in the pylorus.
• Failure of transit through the stomach of lead-based products are highly likely to lead to acute systemic lead absorption.

Identification/Assessment
• It is extremely important to identify the object that your child may have swallowed and time must be noted for future requirements at the doctor’s clinic.
• It’s necessary to identify any high-risk item, so measures can be taken accordingly.
• It must be noted if the child has developed any signs of vomiting, abdominal pain, convulsions, coughing, drooling, etc.

Treatment
When a child ingests any kind of foreign bodies such as plastic shard, a piece of a toy, straw, buttons, etc generally comes out of the body naturally through the digestive tract without much complication.
If the condition requires medical attention then you must visit the doctor at once after which the child can be managed as usual if he/she is able to eat or drink normally, is completely pain-free and does not complain of any breathing trouble.

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