The tiny mistake many parents make that could pose a serious choking hazard to young children
In 2015, two-year-old Jacob Jenkins from Hartlepool in the UK passed away after choking on a grape while eating with his parents in their local Pizza Hut.
By the time the first aid crew were able to remove the grape from his throat, the toddler had stopped breathing for 30 minutes, and was in a coma. Three days later, with all hope of recovery gone, his parents had to make the heartbreaking decision to let him slip away.
In light of the tragedy, parents are being reminded of the dangers food can pose to young children. A Facebook post by childcare company Jack In The Box began trending as news of Jacob's choking incident spread, urging adults to not only cut grapes in half before giving them to children, but to also always make sure they were cut lengthways.
The post states: "I'm posting this to encourage everyone to always cut grapes in half (lengthways) before letting your child eat them. It doesn't matter what age they are or how good at chewing they are, grapes are the perfect size to completely block a child's windpipe and once it's lodged there its almost impossible to get out and blocks their whole airway."
A US survey of food most likely to cause childhood choking put grapes in fourth place, behind frankfurter sausages, sweets and nuts.
"The airway of a child under two is only around eight millimetres wide and funnel-shaped," says Dr Nick Piggott, consultant in paediatric cardiac intensive care at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. "Objects can get wedged in the upper throat, blocking the airflow completely. Older children are bigger and less likely to have a life-threatening choking incident."
Grapes and cherry tomatoes are particularly problematic, and should according to Dr Piggott be cut into small pieces for small children.
"Grapes and cherry tomatoes are round, slightly malleable and easy to swallow whole," says Dr Piggott. "If a grape gets stuck in the airway, it can block the airflow completely and it is almost impossible to remove."
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