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NAN: Choking

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When a child is choking, it is an emergency. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, choking is a leading cause of injury an death in young children, especially in children under age 3. 

Children may choke on food, toys or other small objects that can fit into their mouths. Choking occurs when the airway is blocked and air cannot get into or out of the lungs normally. When a child is choking, she cannot breathe properly.

Most of the time when adults describe choking in children, they are referring to when something has “gone down the wrong pipe.” In these instances, food may be partially obstructing the child’s airway but the child is coughing, breathing and talking. In these cases, the child will typically recover from the incident without intervention. Encourage the child to keep coughing.

If a child is not coughing, crying, speaking or breathing, you will need to intervene. In the case of an infant, the American Red Cross, in its Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED Ready Reference, recommends giving 5 back blows followed by 5 chest thrusts until the object is forced out, the infant can cough forcibly, cry or breathe or becomes unconscious. If an infant becomes unconscious, if you haven’t called 911 already do so and give rescue breaths, followed by 30 chest compressions. Look and try to remove the object if you see it. If  the chest does not rise when giving breaths, repeat. If the chest does rise check for breathing and provide appropriate care. 

In the case of a child you will need to give 5 back blows followed by 5 abdominal thrusts until the object is forced out, the child can cough or breathe or the child becomes unconscious.  If a child becomes unconscious, if you haven’t called 911 already do so and give rescue breaths, followed by 30 chest compressions. Look and try to remove the object if you see it. If  the chest does not rise when giving breaths, repeat. If the chest does rise check for breathing and provide appropriate care.  

All nannies should maintain up to date CPR and First Aid certification as recommended practices change over time. Attending CPR and First Aid certification courses can give you the current best practices, skills and confidence you need to deal with a choking emergency should one arise. 

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Choking