Foreign-Body Ingestions of Young Children Treated in US Emergency Departments: 1995-2015

Pediatrics. 2019 May;143(5):e20181988. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-1988. Epub 2019 Apr 12.


Objectives: To describe the epidemiology of foreign-body ingestions (FBIs) of children <6 years of age who were treated in US emergency departments from 1995 to 2015.

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for children <6 years of age who were treated because of concern of FBI from 1995 to 2015. National estimates were generated from the 29 893 actual cases reviewed.

Results: On the basis of those cases, 759 074 children <6 years of age were estimated to have been evaluated for FBIs in emergency departments over the study period. The annual rate of FBI per 10 000 children increased by 91.5% from 9.5 in 1995 to 18 in 2015 (R 2 = 0.90; P < .001). Overall, boys more frequently ingested foreign bodies (52.9%), as did children 1 year of age (21.3%). Most children were able to be discharged after their suspected ingestion (89.7%). Among the types of objects ingested, coins were the most frequent (61.7%). Toys (10.3%), jewelry (7.0%), and batteries (6.8%) followed thereafter. The rates of ingestions of those products also increased significantly over the 21-year period. Across all age groups, the most frequently ingested coin was a penny (65.9%). Button batteries were the most common batteries ingested (85.9%).

Conclusions: FBIs remain common in children <6 years of age, and their rate of ingestions has increased over time. The frequency of ingestions noted in this study underscores the need for more research to determine how best to prevent these injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Eating*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / trends*
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnosis
  • Foreign Bodies / epidemiology*
  • Foreign Bodies / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Numismatics
  • Play and Playthings
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology