Aspiration of a foreign object is all too common in young children. The risk is increased if certain risk factors are present.


General feature: any object <= 32 mm (1.25 inches) in diameter (Rutherford et al).


Behaviors at the time of aspiration:

(1) chewing or sucking on the object

(2) running or playing with an object in the mouth

(3) suddenly inhaling after being startled, while laughing, etc.


Food is the most common material aspirated:

(1) hot dogs

(2) candy

(3) nuts

(4) grapes

(5) gum



(1) small balls

(2) marbles

(3) rubber balloons

(4) toy with small parts



(1) bolt

(2) nail

(3) tacks



(1) small rocks or stones


Ways to reduce the risk:

(1) adult supervision of small children

(2) keeping small objects out of reach of small children

(3) observing safety warnings on products

(4) purchasing toys that are age appropriate


To read more or access our algorithms and calculators, please log in or register.