Wave of Childrens’ Swallowing Incidents Prompts Urgent Warning From Doctors

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Photo by Assuta Ashdod Public Hospital on 17 May, 2023
By Pesach Benson • 17 May, 2023

Jerusalem, 17 May, 2023 (TPS) — In a concerning series of incidents, four children were rushed to the Assuta Ashdod Public Hospital within the past four days after swallowing foreign objects in separate incidents.

The children, between the ages 4-10, had ingested coins, magnetic game pieces and necklace beads. Emergency surgery was required in two of the cases. Adding to the trend, a six-year-old boy was also admitted to Assuta’s intensive care unit on Saturday after choking on a piece of candy.

“I appeal to all parents and ask to warn them: when it comes to small children, any small thing can be inhaled into the lungs or swallowed and get stuck in the esophagus. Keep it out of their hands,” said Dr. Sharon Avnet Tamir, director of Assuta’s Head and Neck Surgery Department.

Two of the children did not require surgical intervention. A hospital spokesperson said the objects were naturally expelled in response to non-invasive treatment and the children were sent home.

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But the other two children weren’t as lucky.

X-rays revealed that magnetic game pieces swallowed by a seven-year-old girl remained firmly lodged in her intestine despite 72 hours of efforts to extract them naturally. And a four-year-old girl having trouble breathing was also operated on when X-rays showed silver coins in her esophagus.

Medical consultations involving Dr. Tamir, Dr. Hani Taf Ulverston, director of the pediatric gastroenterology unit, and other senior doctors concluded that immediate surgeries were imperative to safeguard the lives of the girls.

The first surgery, led by Dr. Ofer Glick and Dr. Jordan Tanenbaum from the head and neck surgery department, successfully removed the coins from the four-year-old girl on Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. Ulverston operated on the seven-year-old girl Wednesday morning, removing of the game pieces.

Following their operations, the girls were transferred to Assuta’s children’s department for further care and supervision.

“Unfortunately, in recent months, we have seen a large increase in the number of referrals to the hospitals due to playing with and swallowing magnetic game parts,” Dr. Ulverston said. “We urge parents not to bring magnet games into the home. The best defense is prevention, and we must not wait for a tragic case to awaken us.”

Dr. Nili Yanai, a senior pediatrician at the Children’s Medical Center, also stressed that parents remain alert, especially if their children are very young.

“It is our job as parents to be vigilant and prevent the next disaster! Small children learn about the world and tend to put everything in their mouths. Parents must be attentive and prevent them from playing with small parts that are not age-appropriate,” she said.

“Additionally, when it comes to food, children under the age of five have less developed chewing and swallowing abilities compared”

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