Foreign Body Ingestion In Children

Foreign Body Ingestion In Children

Updated on July 5, 2024

Small kids have the tendency to take anything they find and put it in their mouths. Parents should take care to avoid foreign body ingestion in children. Kids take anything like magnets, button batteries, remote batteries, safety pins, and small insects. Sometimes foreign body ingestion in children can be life-threatening if not treated timely. This article focus on the warning signs and red flags that one must look for and also share insights on how dangerous foreign body ingestion is and how it can be treated.

Foreign Body Ingestion In Children

Children are coming to our emergency with various foreign body ingestion. It could be just a magnet or a button battery or a remote battery, or safety pins. Some of them were just mild and some needed immediate interventions. Most of the time foreign body ingestion might be harmless.

Foreign Body ingestion in children – When does it require medical attention?

When they’re having coughing or choking episodes or difficulty in swallowing food, drooling of saliva all these are warning signs. At that time we will generally get a chest x-ray done including the abdomen to see the location of the foreign body.

When is it very very important to attend to the foreign body?

Especially when it is stuck to the food pipe or in the lungs it needs removal immediately. But some of the conditions like button battery have to be addressed immediately. In our setup, we call the gastroenterologist and arrange the scopy for the child immediately because when we do not remove it, it will end up harming the underlying tissues and cause erosion and bleeding which can be very life-threatening.

How can we solve this problem?

I understand it is very difficult to supervise the children but that is the most important aspect I am going to reinforce. Again we have to encourage children to play in a very safe environment. Childproofing is very important. Especially in the case of batteries when it is not used please dispose of them immediately and also if the batteries like button batteries are being used make sure they are in the right compartment with all the nuts and bolts in place. This is very important to prevent such serious injuries.

Adding to this so we often see when the child comes to consume something the parents immediately try to make the baby puke. Now kindly avoid doing these things because by doing so you might injure the child because whatever the vomiting, that can go into the lungs and cause further damage. So kindly avoid doing such things.

If you have noticed the child has consumed anything, immediately get to the doctor’s attention so that they can take care of your baby well. If the child has followed the button battery at home, if the child is less than one year old, do not give honey, but if the child is more than one year old you can administer one-two teaspoons of honey and take them to medical attention immediately.


Parents should take care to avoid foreign body ingestion in children. Ensure that batteries, safety pins and such things are kept in a safe place where children do not reach. Small kids have the tendency to put everything in their mouth because they do not know the problems that can cause by foreign body ingestion.

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References & Credits: Dr Sindhu MV (Paediatric Intensivist) & Dr Nanditha R (Paediatric Intensivist), Aster Hospitals, Bangalore. You can watch the video here.

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