Some objects are just not meant to be swallowed. What types of objects do children swallow? What makes them dangerous? Will they get stuck?

A foreign body is an object that is not normally meant to enter the body. They can be swallowed, causing the airway or gastrointestinal (GI) tract to become blocked. If the airway becomes blocked the patient may be unable to breathe. Children may also insert objects in their nose or ear.

The National Poisons Centre received over 120 calls about foreign bodies in 2006. Children account for over 75% of foreign body calls, and the majority of these occur in children under 5 years.

What makes a foreign body dangerous?

Size and shape
Large or strangely shaped objects are more likely to get stuck, and objects greater than 16 mm may not pass through the narrow opening of the stomach

Type of object

Magnets
Button batteries
Coins
Sharp objects (knives, earrings, blades, drawing pins)
Lead objects
Expandable objects ("Grow a..." Toys, tampons)

Should I be worried if someone ingests a foreign body

It depends on the size and type of object, and if the patient has any symptoms.

If the patient is not choking


If the patient is displaying signs of choking: