A story currently going viral on social media reports that a mum has issued a choking warning about Cadbury Mini Eggs after claiming that her five-year-old daughter choked on one and died.
While the tragic story – from an anonymous user called xGemx on forum mumsadvice.co.uk – is as yet unsubstantiated, it’s true that a lot of the parents don’t know what to do if their child is choking on an object or food.
The post has also attracted numerous comments from other forum users who say they have experienced scares following choking incidents involving the treats. ‘
Mini Egg Warning – parents take note’
The viral post reads: “With Easter coming up I want to warn you all about another deadly choking hazard, one that tragically took away my child.
“It has been just short of three years since my precious little girl Sophie passed away she had choked on a mini egg and I was unable to dislodge it, even with back slaps and pushing up and under her ribs, I had done a first aid course only six months prior to this event so all the techniques to help a choking child were still fresh in my mind but it didn’t help.
“I watched the light slip away from my baby’s eyes, I tried in vain to save her.
“Sophie was 5 and a half so not a tiny tot yet this seemingly harmless treat took my angel away.”
She added: “If your children enjoy these chocolate treats please watch them extra close and remind them to sit down whilst eating them or avoid them altogether.”
Cadbury Mini Egg packaging warns: ‘Choking Hazard: This product is not suitable for children under four.’
A Cadbury’s spokesperson said: “We were saddened by this tragic event as the safety of our customers is of the upmost importance to us.
“We ensure that all of our Cadbury Mini Eggs packaging very clearly carries the following warning: Choking Hazard: This product is not suitable for children under 4.”
Choking is a leading cause of injury and death among children, especially those younger than 4 years of age.
The mother’s heartbreaking claim has echoes of the tragic story of two-year-old Jacob Jenkins, who died after choking on a grape at a Pizza Hut in Hartlepool in 2015.
Grapes, which are a similar shape to Cadbury Mini Eggs, are the third most common cause of death among children who die in food-related choking incidents.
At the time of Jacob’s tragic death, a Facebook post from Jack In The Box Childcare urged adults to always cut grapes in half lengthways before giving them to children.
The post stated: “I’m posting this to encourage everyone to always cut grapes in half (lengthways) before letting your child eat them.
“It doesn’t matter what age they are or how good at chewing they are, grapes are the perfect size to completely block a child’s windpipe and once it’s lodged there its almost impossible to get out and blocks their whole airway”.
How to help a choking child
Children, particularly those aged from one to five, often put objects in their mouth.
This is a normal part of how they explore the world.
Some small objects, such as marbles, beads and button batteries, are just the right size to get stuck in a child’s airway and cause choking.
The best way to avoid this is to make sure that small objects like these are kept out of your child’s reach.
No matter how careful you are, your child may choke on something. In most cases, you or someone else will see your child swallow the object that causes choking.
There can be other reasons why your child starts coughing. However, if your child suddenly starts coughing, is not ill, and has a habit of putting small objects in their mouth, there’s a good chance that they’re choking.
Tips on helping a choking child
If you can see the object, try to remove it.
Don’t poke blindly or repeatedly with your fingers.
You could make things worse by pushing the object further in and making it harder to remove.
If your child is coughing loudly, there’s no need to do anything.
Encourage them to carry on coughing and don’t leave them.
If your child’s coughing is not effective (it’s silent or they can’t breathe in properly), shout for help immediately and decide whether they’re still conscious.
If your child is still conscious, but they’re either not coughing or their coughing is not effective, use back blows (see below).
Back blows for babies under one year Sit down and lay your baby face down along your thighs, supporting their head with your hand.
Give up to five sharp back blows with the heel of one hand in the middle of the back between the shoulder blades.
Back blows for children over one year
Lay a small child face down on your lap as you would a baby.
If this isn’t possible, support your child in a forward-leaning position and give five back blows from behind.
If back blows don’t relieve the choking and your baby or child is still conscious, give chest thrusts (see below) to infants under one year or abdominal thrusts (see below) to children over one year.
This will create an artificial cough, increasing pressure in the chest and helping to dislodge the object.
Chest thrusts for children under one year
Lay your baby face up along the length of your thighs.
Find the breastbone, and place two fingers in the middle.
Give five sharp chest thrusts (pushes), compressing the chest by about a third.
Abdominal thrusts for children over one year
Stand or kneel behind your child.
Place your arms under the child’s arms and around their upper abdomen.
Clench your fist and place it between the navel and ribs.
Grasp this hand with your other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards.
Repeat up to five times.
Make sure you don’t apply pressure to the lower ribcage, as this may cause damage.
Following chest or abdominal thrusts, reassess your child as follows
If the object is still not dislodged and your child is still conscious, continue the sequence of back blows and either chest or abdominal thrusts.
Call out or send for help, if you’re still on your own.
Don’t leave the child.
Even if the object has come out, get medical help.
Part of the object might have been left behind, or your child might have been hurt by the procedure.
Unconscious child with choking
If a choking child is, or becomes, unconscious, put them on a firm, flat surface and shout for help.
Call 999, putting the phone on speakerphone so your hands are free.
Don’t leave the child at any stage.
Open the child’s mouth.
If the object is clearly visible and you can grasp it easily, then remove it.
Start CPR (see How to resuscitate a child).