Prevention of Accidental Childhood Strangulation. A Clinical Study

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2000 Sep;109(9):797-802. doi: 10.1177/000348940010900902.


Accidental strangulation is a preventable problem, and there is limited scientific understanding of its mechanism in children. If the amount of external pressure that occludes the airway can be determined, design changes may be made to allow for production of household objects that would break apart at safe pressure levels. A force gauge was applied to the suprahyoid region in 90 children under standardized anesthesia. Three blinded observers performed the study. The anesthesiologist maintained the airway and used a stethoscope to auscultate for breath sounds and monitor the CO2 curves to evaluate obstruction. The recorder noted the numbers from the gauge. A single observer applied the force gauge. Age was the most significant variable in occluding the airway. Obstruction appears to occur at the level of the larynx. Increased knowledge regarding the external pressure required for airway occlusion would allow for the design and manufacture of products with a reduced potential for accidental strangulation.

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention*
  • Airway Obstruction / complications
  • Airway Obstruction / prevention & control*
  • Asphyxia / complications
  • Asphyxia / prevention & control*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neck