Childhood Asphyxiation by Food: A National Analysis and Overview

Carole Stallings Harris, Susan P. Baker, Gary A. Smith, Richard M. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2231-2235
Number of pages5
JournalJAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 4 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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