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Weird Things Kids Swallow

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Pediatrician Dr. Gwenn says some things are no big deal, while others can be deadly.


After 8-year-old Haley Lents of Indiana swallowed 20 steel balls and 10 magnets from a Magnetix set last month and nearly died, we asked friend of Momlogic pediatrician Dr. Gwenn to weigh in on which items are safe, not so safe, or downright dangerous for our kids to digest.

1. Play-Doh and crayons "Anything that says non-toxic is fine, usually. That means swallowing crayons and Play-Doh is okay."

2. Pennies and buttons are...usually safe. "Most small, smooth things like coins and buttons usually pass right through the digestive tract. But in rare cases, it can get stuck down by the voice box cartilage, too. In that case, kids normally complain of neck pain, have a cough, and experience trouble breathing."

3. Magnets are...downright dangerous. "Magnets can seriously damage the stomach or intestine. They can attract each other though the lining, cause a lack of blood flow, and eventually puncture the lining of the intestine, which can be deadly."

4. Bobby pins, needles and safety pins are...not so safe. "Anything with a point is not fine. The puncture issue is the problem, and perforation can occur anywhere along the digestive tract--from the esophagus to the stomach to the intestines."

5. Batteries are...downright dangerous. "Anything that has chemicals in them is bad if swallowed." If your child has swallowed a battery or ingested potentially harmful chemicals, call 911 or Poison Control at 800-222-1222 immediately."

6. Boogers are gross...but safe. "Boogers are fine--kids swallow those all the time!"

But remember: Better safe than sorry. "In general, even if a child swallows something safe," Dr. Gwenn concludes, "Medical care is needed if any symptoms such as choking, drooling or abdominal pain develop."

next: Be a Less Miserable Mom
7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Herve B February 8, 2008, 5:40 PM

I have heard that new pennies,since the changed from a solid copper penny to copper plated zinc penny that the stomach acid will eat thru the copper and allow the zinc to make the child sick. All other coins are currently
safe as far as I know

Kathryn E. Hensley March 25, 2011, 6:53 AM


Brad O. Morrow March 29, 2011, 4:59 PM

Thank you

Carmen O. Goldberg March 31, 2011, 3:04 AM


Lori I. Ritchie April 8, 2011, 12:48 AM


Donna I. Ritchie April 9, 2011, 3:51 PM


Vivian A. Maxwell April 10, 2011, 4:14 AM


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