Toddlers and infants are fragile and curious. If your child starts to crawl or walk around your home, chances are you’ll find him reaching for different objects and putting them in his mouth. Watch out: there are many potentially dangerous items that a child can swallow and may severely endanger his health.
Dr. Joseph Mercola warns: “It takes only an instant for a child to get injured or swallow an object that could cause lasting, or even deadly, damage.”
Here are the five most dangerous things that children like to swallow:
1. Small magnets – Many children have died or been seriously injured after swallowing small magnets, which can connect across their intestinal wall and punch holes in their stomach and intestines.
Dr. Mercola says that high-powered magnets made from neodymium, like Buckyballs, are the most dangerous. However, almost all magnets can pose dangers to your children
2. Button batteries – A study revealed that from 1990 to 2009, over 66,000 teenagers and children were treated at emergency rooms because of battery-related injuries. (link) Particularly problematic are the 20-mm lithium-cell batteries, which are often used in children’s toys, watches, and hearing aids.
Lithium batteries can cause esophageal perforation, vocal cord paralysis, choking, and other serious problems if they become lodged in the esophagus. Dr. Mercola says that when the batteries are swallowed, they release an electrical current that causes a hazardous chemical reaction in just two hours. Usually, the esophagus and vocal cords are so badly damaged that the child will need a feeding tube.
In 2010 alone, 3,400 children swallowed lithium batteries – two of them died while 19 suffered from severe complications. Past research also reveals that 13 deaths have been reported from swallowing lithium cell batteries.
3. Hair – Swallowing too much hair will cause a hairball or bezoar to form in your child’s stomach. Hairballs can cause extreme pain and stomach obstruction in children. In severe cases, surgery is required to remove the mass.
4. Pills and Alcohol – Medicines like aspirin, heart pills, antidepressants, and diabetes drugs can be deadly to small children. Even vitamins, especially those with iron, can be dangerous. Small amounts of alcohol, as well as medications with alcohol, are also harmful.
5. Nails, Needles, Pins, and Tacks – Very young children often find these objects interesting because they are shiny. When swallowed, they can easily puncture a child’s esophagus, stomach, or intestines. In most cases, these items are naturally passed through, but if signs of complications like blood in the stool, pain, or vomiting arise, seek medical attention immediately.
Did You Know? Sippy Cups, Bottles and Can Also Hurt Your Child
A study revealed that at least 2,270 children under three years old are brought to the emergency room every year because of injuries caused by bottles, sippy cups, and pacifiers. (link) From 1991 to 2010, over 45,000 injuries from these items were reported, meaning at least one child is injured every four hours. However, Dr. Mercola says that this number may be bigger, as there may be injuries that are treated at home or by a pediatrician.
In 86 percent of the cases, the injury occurred when a child fell down while using the product, causing mouth lacerations. One-year old children who are still unsteady on their feet are the most prone to falling down. Bottles caused the most injuries, followed by pacifiers, and then sippy cups.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends transitioning children to lidless cups around the age of one, but this is often ignored by many parents – half of one- and two year-olds today still use feeding bottles, while three-quarters still use a sippy cup. The researchers concluded that if the recommendations were followed, almost 80 percent of injuries could be avoided, since parents would be very watchful of their children and would keep them seated to ensure that the drink will not spill.
7 Child Safety Tips Recommended by Dr. Mercola
Aside from keeping the hazardous items mentioned above out of your child’s reach and limiting his use of sippy cups, Dr. Mercola also recommends these additional child safety tips:
- Install child-safety locks on cabinets to keep your child from prying them open.
- Only allow your child to drink from a bottle or sippy cup when he is sitting down.
- When he is six months old, transition your child away from using a pacifier. At around one year old, he should be using a lidless cup instead of a sippy cup or bottle.
- Make sure your medications, whether in pill or liquid form, have child-proof caps. Keep them out of your child’s reach as well.
- Handle medicines properly and make sure they do not drop to the floor.
- Never leave button batteries and magnets lying around your home. If you give a child a battery-powered toy, make sure that it has a child-proof battery compartment.
- Check your floors and countertops and make sure there are no pins, tacks, buttons, batteries or hair balls lying around. Always keep your child’s play are clean and clutter-free.
For more natural health and child safety tips, read Dr. Mercola’s articles.