Not for under 5s – Mum’s warning after preschooler almost dies eating popcorn

Posted in Family Health.

We’ve spoken before on Babyology about the dangers of popcorn for under-5’s. But many families remain unaware of the risk this favourite snack can pose.

No popcorn for under-5s

Poor Cheree Lawrence is one such mum. She had been giving popcorn to her littlies as a healthy snack choice and – like so many other brilliant parents – had no idea that it was actually best avoided during the early years.

Sadly a terrifying experience changed all that.

Cheree is now hoping to save other families from going through the sort of scary situation she and her daughter just navigated.

“I didn’t think twice about giving my 3-year-old popcorn,” Cheree wrote on her blog Oh So Busy Mum. “I had no idea how dangerous it is for young children to aspirate on, or that children under 5 shouldn’t have popcorn at all.”

Cheree says her three-year-old was happily eating popcorn one day when she began to choke a little. Within minutes she was coughing and wheezing and as things got worse they headed to the emergency room.

“They immediately administered steroids, adrenaline and started her on Ventolin bursts,” Cheree explained. “I kept bringing up the popcorn incident, but the doctors and nurses didn’t seem to think it was connected because she was responding to treatment.”

The next day the family headed home with a “sudden onset asthma” diagnosis, but things went downhill again from there. A really concerned Cheree headed back to the hospital with her daughter, where her requests for x-rays were refused and her worries about the popcorn were brushed aside.

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I’m sharing this post so that other parents know the dangers of giving young children popcorn, and a reminder to always trust your gut instinct. I ignored my gut instinct and put all my trust in what doctors were telling me (because how could so many doctors get it wrong?) and it could have very well cost my daughter her life. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It’s taken me a very long time to share this post. Mainly because I didn’t want to be judged by others and I wish I did things a little differently. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Luckily it worked out in the end, but it could have ended very differently. You can read the full blog post via the link in my bio. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #linkinbio

A post shared by Cheree Lawrence (@ohsobusymum) on

Concerns ignored

Her daughter was treated for asthma and released again, with a referral to an outpatient’s clinic. Two weeks later they were back in hospital, the three-year-old still really struggling to breathe. Treatment for asthma was given. Again. And they were sent home. Again.

A frustrated and really worried Cheree then headed to her family GP to try and get some answers, as her daughter’s quality of life was diminishing and she was simply very unwell.

“I knew this wasn’t normal, so booked an appointment with my GP who was really concerned after listening to her chest, so sent us for an immediate chest x-ray. The x-ray showed she had pneumonia and inflammation on her lung.”

Her GP immediately referred her to a specialist.

“We had to wait one long week to see the specialist (now on week 5) and as soon as he listened to her chest and looked at the x-ray, he sent us straight back to the emergency room with a stern letter for them to finally treat her and investigate further,” Cheree explained.

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Oh hey! It's me with 2 out of 4 of my girls. Can you believe this is my FIRST PHOTO EVER that I have shared of myself here?⁣ ⁣ I've managed to break all the "blogging rules" and build a successful blog and following over the past five years without ever sharing a photo of myself. It's hard to believe, I know! ⁣ ⁣ I go out of my way to do things differently by putting all the focus on my work and children instead of myself, and it's worked for me, but now people are starting to notice and ask me why don't I share photos of myself.⁣ ⁣ And the reason is simple. It's merely because I don't feel like I fit in with the typical "blogger look". I think people have an expectation at what a blogger should look like and although I'm happy with myself, I don't feel like I fit that box. ⁣ ⁣ Now that I've finally posted a photo here! I'm going to slowly start changing what I share by jumping in pictures a little more, doing more stories and making a conscious effort to connect with my followers more than I do now.⁣ ⁣ Ok, I'll slowly hide away now that I've shared the photo because I'm secretly terrified now it's on here, lol.⁣ ⁣ #Itisonherenow #ohhey

A post shared by Cheree Lawrence (@ohsobusymum) on

“The damage was done”

Thankfully staff were quick to act this time, but the five weeks it had taken to properly treat this little girl had taken a toll.

“That afternoon she was taken into emergency surgery to remove the piece of popcorn that she had in fact aspirated on 5 weeks earlier. It was too late! The damage was done. The popcorn had caused some damage to her lung because it sat there for 5 long weeks and slowly started breaking down.”

Cheree’s now urging other parents to not only avoid giving under-5’s popcorn but also to trust their instincts and be firm if they’re in a similar position with a medical issue.

“Please remember to always trust your gut instinct and to advocate if needed for your child. Doctors can and do get it wrong all the time and us as parents know our children and know when something is off with them.”

Thank you so much for sharing your family’s story, Cheree. It may help save other kids from going through something similar – or much worse.


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