Volume 41, Issue 2 (March 1996)
Deaths Due to Foreign Body Aspiration in Children: The Continuing Hazard of Toy Balloons
Asphyxia due to aspiration of a foreign body is a common cause of accidental death in children. Foreign body aspiration is the most likely cause of accidental fatalities in children under 1-year-of-age. Children may die due to airway obstruction by food objects such as hot dogs, nuts, candies, grapes, seeds, and egg shells. Non-food objects such as balloons, coins, pop tops of beverage cans, pills, safety pins, ball bearings, marbles, and baby powder also may be fatally aspirated. To better understand and help prevent this well recognized health risk to children, we reviewed 10 years of cases at the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office in which deaths in children 14-years-of-age and younger were due to aspiration of foreign objects. The most common item that caused fatal aspiration in our series was a toy balloon.