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More than 12,000 kids treated for food-related choking

According to a new study published in "Pediatrics,"

According to a new study published in "Pediatrics," hot dogs and hard candy top the list of food-related choking hazards. Credit: iStock

Hot dogs and hard candy top the list of foods children younger than four are most likely to choke on, according to a new study published in "Pediatrics."

An average of 12,400 children younger than 14 years of age are treated in emergency rooms for nonfatal food-related choking annually, which equals 34 children a day.

What foods top the list? Hard candy caused most choking episodes (15 percent), followed by other candy (13 percent), meat other than hot dogs (12 percent), bones (12 percent), and fruits and vegetables (10 percent). According to researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, other high-risk foods, including hot dogs, seeds and nuts, were more likely to require hospitalization.

In addition, boys accounted for more than half (55 percent) of all cases and children 0-4 years of age experienced the highest rate of food-related choking.

To help prevent food-related choking among children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends improved monitoring of food-related choking incidents, placing warning labels on foods that pose a high choking risk and developing public awareness campaigns to educate parents and the public about the dangers.

According to a USA Today article, a previous Center of Disease Control (CDC) data showed that among children younger than 14, 60 percent of nonfatal choking cases involved food; 31 percent involved toys, coins, batteries and other non-food-related items.

"If you wanted to perfectly design a food that would block your child's airway completely, it would be a piece of hot dog," warns family physician Mark Anderson from Executive Medicine of Texas. "This study doesn't surprise me and hopefully, it's a wake up call for parents."

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