This Terrifying X-Ray of a Choking Child Is a Wake-Up Call for Parents

x-ray of choking child
Finlee And Me/Facebook

Any parent who's spent time painstakingly slicing grape and cherry tomatoes in half to keep a preschooler safe knows some of the most popular finger foods for kids can easily be choking hazards. It's why we cut them, after all. But an x-ray of just what can happen when a grape gets lodged in a child's throat has gone viral this week and carries with it an extra warning: Choking hazards aren't just a concern for the toddler set. 

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Maybe that sounds obvious, but most warnings regarding choking list items as "not for children 3 and under." And by age 5, when we're sending them off to kindergarten without us, most parents are breathing a whole lot easier. 

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Which is why this x-ray image shared by an Australian mom is getting so much attention:

xray grape lodged in child's thrat
Finlee and Me/Facebook

The image shows the throat of a 5-year-old. Fortunately the little boy is okay after an operation to remove the grape from where it was lodged. 

His plight serves as a good warning to parents everywhere that it's not helicoptering your kids to be wary of choking issues beyond the preschool age. As the mom who shared this photo wrote in her post, "When in doubt, just cut the damn grapes, baby tomatoes, etc."

According to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates, more than 17,000 kids 14 and younger end up in the emergency room annually because of a choking-related episode. That number doesn't include incidents where a child choked due to smoke inhalation, holding their breath, swallowing vomit, or strangulation. In addition to the risk of death, the CDC's warning about choking hazards also reminds parents that choking incidents put kids at a heightened risk for infection in the respiratory tract and complications associated with lack of oxygen from airway obstruction, including permanent brain damage and death.

So whether you're taking the time to cut items like grapes and hot dogs down, or just reminding your kids to chew things thoroughly before they swallow, you could literally be saving your child's life. 

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It's also not a bad idea to sit your kids down and demonstrate the universal sign for choking -- holding both hands at the neck, one over the other -- so they know how to communicate that they're in distress if something does happen. Because all it takes is one piece of fruit swallowed in haste while laughing at a buddy at lunchtime, and your kiddo could be in trouble. Knowing what to do will help them help themselves. 

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