This image shows why you should cut up kids’ grapes before serving

xray of grape

An image shared by a local Australian blogger, Angela Henderson, has many parents and carers rethinking the way they serve grapes – and other soft fruits – to their kids.

Attention Parents!Do you know what this X-ray is of? A grape!A grape that was lodged in the top of a 5 year olds…

Posted by Finlee and Me on Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The perfect shape

Grapes. Yum! Such a healthy finger-food option for children and adults alike, but it’s important to note that whole grapes can pose a very serious choking hazard to kids – one that may not have been noted by some parents.

Before you get snotty and mumble “scare campaign” note a few facts about this image of a rogue grape.

1. This is the x-ray of a 5-year-old child choking victim – a child that has eaten very many things and generally knows how to chew, not a newbie snacker. Circumstances obviously had them inhaling, rather than swallowing this piece of fruit. It happened – and indeed happens often, according to doctors.

2. This child went on to undergo surgery, under a general anaesthetic, to remove the grape lodged in his airway and save his life.

3. This image shows how whole grapes fit very snugly into a child’s airway, almost completely blocking it and preventing the child from breathing normally (or in some cases, preventing the child from breathing at all.) It’s a valuable warning of what can happen in certain circumstances.

Nanny state?

Many Facebook commenters on this shared image are getting shouty about what they see as the unfair demonising of grapes. Some think we should draw the line at cutting them up to keep ourselves (and our kiddos) safer. They cite the multitude of other choking hazards that pass our kids’ lips – and are mumbling things like “chew your food better!” or “stop running and eating!” or “turn off the iPad” or “back in my day…!”

Some of those are definitely valid points, but it’s worth noting that grapes are close to the top of the list for choking deaths in children. Nanny state aside, surely you’d seek to make grapes less dangerous, if you could?

Third most common cause of death among children

“Grapes are the third most common cause of death among children who die in food-related choking incidents, and doctors say a lack of awareness among parents, carers and health professionals could be leaving young children at risk,” The Guardian reported in December in a piece flagging parents’ and carer’s ignorance to the dangers of whole grapes and other fruits like cherry tomatoes.

The two foods ahead of grapes in the choking hall of shame are lollies and hotdogs, and doctors warn that many other soft fruits pose a risk to kids. They hope we’ll rethink the way we serve food, with this helpful – and upsetting – information on the dangers of some foods.

How to keep your kids safe

The official advice is that parents and carers should “chop up soft fruits such as grapes and cherry tomatoes into quarters before giving them to children, and make sure youngsters are supervised while eating.” 

Obviously kids should also be sitting down while eating, chewing properly and not rushing things.

Parents and carers are urged to learn basic first aid and educate themselves on the best response if a child does choke. 

There are calls for warning labels on the soft fruits kids love to eat, to raise awareness of the hazard they may pose to distracted, inexperienced or busy eaters – and the parents who may not be able to dislodge trapped fruit from a struggling child’s throat.

Has your child ever choked on a grape?

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