Nine-month-old girl needs surgery after swallowing a Christmas confetti star which was lodged in her throat for 11 DAYS before doctors found it
- The girl had dribbled blood and developed a fever, cough and fast breathing
- Hospital doctors sent her home twice without realising what was making her ill
- On the third visit they did scans and discovered the plastic object in her throat
- They said more parents and doctors should be warned about the stars’ danger
Eating until you can eat no more is one of the greatest pleasures of Christmas.
But one little girl needed two weeks of medical treatment after going too far and trying to eat decorations.
The nine-month-old, from Australia, choked after swallowing a plastic confetti star which became lodged in her throat for 11 days before doctors found it on a scan.
For more than a week medics were bewildered by why the girl was suffering from a fever, a cough and rapid breathing, until they realised they needed to operate.
Scans of the girl’s head and neck revealed an obvious star shape in her throat and doctors operated immediately to remove the festive decoration
Doctors from the Gold Coast University Hospital in Australia revealed the bizarre case in a medical journal, in a letter titled ‘A Christmas message: be careful of the confetti stars’.
They said the infant had been brought to hospital because of a ‘serious choking episode’ in which she was dribbling blood.
But medics couldn’t find anything wrong with her so sent her home, thinking she had choked on her own saliva.
The family were back in the emergency room two days later, however, when the girl had developed rapid breathing, a fever and a cough.
‘She was diagnosed with bronchiolitis and received inpatient treatment for three days,’ wrote medics Paul Heyworth and Ryan Shulman in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, the doctors said: ‘Despite their flexible nature, the sharp points of confetti stars appear to increase the risk of lodgement in the upper aerodigestive tract’
The stuck star had caused an abscess to develop in the girl’s throat (pictured a scan showing the dark grey lump measured 5.5cm (2.1inches) across) which was pressing on her airway and making it difficult to breathe
After the three-day stay the girl was sent home. But she was back for a third time six days later with the same symptoms and doctors decided to do scans of her neck.
This finally revealed the true cause of her illness – scans showed an abscess which was pressing on her airways and the distinct shape of a tiny five-pointed star.
They took her into surgery to drain the abscess and cut out the star, which had become lodged in her throat after she swallowed it. The girl then made a full recovery.
The medics wrote in their report: ‘Despite their flexible nature, the sharp points of confetti stars appear to increase the risk of lodgement in the upper aerodigestive tract, and their reflective surfaces attract the interests of young children with a propensity to place things in their mouths.
‘While uncommon, the potential for similar cases to present over these Christmas holidays exists.’
They said more doctors and parents should be made aware of this possibility and that the stars should carry warnings on the packaging.
KEEP BUTTON BATTERIES AWAY FROM CHILDREN WHO MIGHT SWALLOW THEM
Parents must keep button batteries away from their children because they can cause serious or even fatal injuries if put into the body, experts warn.
The small round batteries, often found in toys and remote controls, can cause chemical burns if they come into contact with the mouth or nose.
A new warning was issued last year by health investigators after they studied the case of a child who died after swallowing one of the batteries.
And many Christmas items are powered by the batteries, potentially putting children’s lives at risk with everyday household items.
Button batteries trigger a chemical reaction when they come into contact with wet flesh
The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) issued the warning for parents to be aware of the batteries’ dangers and to store and dispose of them properly.
‘These batteries pose a very real risk to small children and babies,’ said HSIB’s medical director, Dr Kevin Stewart.
‘The consequences of swallowing a button battery can be truly devastating.’
They batteries become dangerous as soon as they touch wet flesh like the inside of the mouth or throat, the nose or the ear, the experts warned.
Wet surfaces trigger a chemical reaction as the battery begins to release its charge, and this reaction can cause severe burns to living tissue.
If a battery is swallowed or inserted into the body it can cause internal burns within hours and lead to problems with swallowing and breathing.