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Aspiration of foreign bodies by children can lead to serious illness and sometimes even death. According to National Safety Council statistics, in 1995, mechanical suffocation accounted for 5% (167) of all unintentional deaths among children in the United States younger than 4 years of age. Most of these deaths occurred in children younger than 1 year of age (81 deaths, accounting for 10% of all unintentional deaths in children younger than 1 year of age). Fortunately, the number of deaths has decreased over the past decade, which has been attributed to better education of the public and stricter guidelines for toy manufacturers. Nevertheless, foreign body aspiration continues to account for a significant number of preventable childhood deaths.

Younger children are at the highest risk for accidental foreign body aspiration. This increased incidence has been attributed to several factors among younger children,...

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