Childhood asphyxiation by food. A national analysis and overview

JAMA. 1984 May 4;251(17):2231-5.


Data on all identified food-related asphyxiations of infants and children aged 0 to 9 years in 41 states from 1979 to 1981 were analyzed by type of food and age of child. Nationally, one death occurred approximately every five days. More than 90% occurred in infants and children younger than 5 years and 65% in infants younger than 2 years. Round foods were most often mentioned of the 103 foods specifically identified on death certificates. Most frequently cited were hot dog products (17 cases, 17%), candy, ten; nuts, nine; and grapes, eight. Hot dogs caused deaths from infancy through 3 years (more than two thirds of all deaths from meat products) and seven of ten deaths in 3-year-olds. Characteristics of foods, children, and environment can be related to three phases of food asphyxiation: penetration, occlusion, and expulsion. Preventive measures include product modification, warning labels, and dissemination of information on high-risk foods.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Airway Obstruction / mortality*
  • Asphyxia / etiology
  • Asphyxia / mortality*
  • Asphyxia / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Food / adverse effects*
  • Foreign Bodies / complications
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inhalation
  • Male
  • United States
  • Vomiting / complications