Entries in choking (7)


Feds Fighting to Keep Hazardous Toys Off Shelves for Holiday Season

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Top federal officials are trying to block a flood of dangerous toys from overseas from hitting the U.S. store shelves this holiday season.

Federal customs and consumer protection officials have intercepted more than 2 million units of dangerous toys and children's products so far this year at U.S. ports of entry, they said Thursday.

At a press briefing Thursday, U.S. Customs and Consumer Product Safety Commission officials laid out a display of seized toys that any child could love: princess jewelry, toy cars, dolls and action figures.

But the innocent-looking playthings from overseas manufacturers were blocked from entering the country because they all can be hazardous to the health of a child, investigators said. Some contained dangerously high levels of lead. Others had sharp edges or contained small parts that could choke a small child.

"Together with CPSC, we have intercepted record amounts of unsafe products," Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar said. "We are here to raise consumers' awareness about the very real danger of unsafe products."

Earlier this month in Detroit, authorities intercepted more than 3,000 toy guns from China. Testing revealed all had excessive levels of lead.

At a seizure last week in Jacksonville, Fla., authorities found toy cars also had lead contamination at levels high enough to do long-lasting harm to a child. In total, nearly 24,000 toys, valued at $22,000, were seized for lead violations in the Jacksonville case.

Since 2008, customs officials said, seizures have nearly doubled both in quantity and value for consumer products imported into the U.S. CBP has targeted more than 5,000 high-risk shipments for examination through the Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC) in Washington on behalf of CPSC, leading to the seizure of thousands of dangerous imported consumer products.

But dangerous toys still kill some American kids. Thirteen kids younger than 15 died in toy-related deaths in 2011, according to the CPSC. That is down from 19 fatalities in 2010 and 17 reported in 2009. The majority of the toy-related fatalities were attributed to asphyxiation, choking or drowning. They included children choking on balloons, drowning after trying to retrieve a toy from a swimming pool or being found with tricycles in swimming pools.

The Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries Report released by CPSC Thursday estimated 193,200 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries to children younger than 15 occurred in 2011. Many of the incidents were associated with, but not necessarily caused by, a toy.

For children younger than 15, non-motorized scooters continued to be the category of toys associated with the most injuries. There are no figures for how many of those toys may have come from overseas, but officials believe that oftentimes, it is cheap and shoddily-made imports that cause the problems.

"Proactive surveillance at the ports, strong toy standards and educational efforts create a safer holiday toy shopping experience for consumers by keeping dangerous products off store shelves," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "Ultimately, our goal is to protect our most vulnerable population -- kids -- and keep them safe this holiday season."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Choking Death Linked to Gastric Bypass Surgery

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A U.K. woman died choking on food that wouldn't fit in her stomach after weight-loss surgery, according to an inquest into her death. But experts say gastric bypass patients are no more likely to choke than someone who didn't undergo the surgery.

The inquest into the December 2011 death of Dianne Bernadette Cooper-Clarke concluded the 64-year-old mother suffocated because of a backlog of food outside her stomach, which had been surgically shrunken to the size of a thumb, according to the Daily Mail.

"The tube that goes from the mouth to the stomach was swollen and food had built up all the way to the throat," Dr. Hugh Jones, the Royal Cornwall Hospital pathologist who performed the autopsy, told the inquest, according to the U.K.'s Daily Mail. "Your esophagus is the size of a little finger, but hers was as big as her stomach. ... I considered the food had blocked off her breathing, and that was the cause of death."

Calls by ABC News to Jones were not immediately returned.

Cooper-Clarke had gastric bypass surgery in March 2010, the Daily Mail reported. The procedure uses staples to shrink the stomach so patients eat less food and absorb fewer calories. Patients are warned that overeating can lead to complications.

"After surgery, correct behavior should be measuring food, eating small amounts several times a day and not eating to the point where you're too full or throwing up," said Dr. Mitchell Roslin, a bariatric surgeon at Lennox Hill Hospital in New York. "It takes a long time for the esophagus to dilate out like that, and you'd be symptomatic long before that happened."

Symptoms like bad breath, vomiting and regurgitating food can signal a digestive obstruction, a risk associated with bariatric surgery, according to Roslin, who has no firsthand knowledge of Cooper-Clarke's medical history. But choking would mean aspirating food into the windpipe and being unable to cough it out -- a rare event that could also happen to someone who didn't have bariatric surgery.

"People who can't protect their airways are usually in some sort of altered state," said Roslin, adding that aspiration is often a consequence of alcohol use. "Choking is not a realistic fear for bariatric surgery patients. This just demonstrates that crazy things can happen to anyone."

In the U.S., bariatric surgery is a last resort for people who have tried and failed to lose weight by other means. And while any surgical procedure carries risks, the benefits of bariatric surgery can be life changing, Roslin said.

"I've seen people on 20 medications come off them; people come out of wheelchairs able to live productive and active lives; people on transplant lists now working full time, just from the massive weight loss," he said. "It really can change lives. But the surgery is just a tool to help people be less hungry and make better choices. It's by no means a fool-proof solution."

The inquest concluded Cooper-Clarke's gastric bypass surgery was carried out properly, and that her behavior after the procedure is what led to her death.

"People do not stick to [eating less] and this is tragically what happens," said deputy coroner Andrew Cox, the Daily Mail reported. "This is not a natural cause of death. It is not an accident because she chose to eat. She died of a known complication of an elective surgical procedure of a gastric bypass."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


6-Year-Old Saves Best Friend’s Life with Heimlich Maneuver

ABC News(SACRAMENTO) -- A 6-year-old girl in Sacramento saved her best friend’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver earlier this week, something she learned from watching a Disney Channel TV show.

First graders Elspeth “Beanie” Mar, Aniyah Rigmaiden and Anthony Roy Jr. were enjoying their routine lunch together on Tuesday in Caroline Wenzel Elementary School’s cafeteria.

“I was chewing on a hard apple, and I couldn’t swallow it,” Aniyah (above right)  told ABC News. “It went down my throat and got suck.”

Anthony noticed Aniyah gasping for air and screamed for help.

“He was yelling, ‘Aniyah’s choking, Aniyah’s choking!’ He heard me coughing and my face was red,” she said.

With that, Aniyah’s best friend Beanie immediately went into action and got up to help. She performed the Heimlich and the apple flew onto the table.

“She was choking and then I helped her,” Beanie told ABC News. “I asked if I saved her life and she said, Yeah, you did.”

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Beanie quietly returned to her lunch. Principal Judy Montgomery said even though there were administrators present, no one knew what had happened until the girls returned to class.

“It was done very quietly,” Montgomery told ABC News. “The young boy sitting across noticed she was choking and said, Aniyah’s choking! Aniyah’s choking! So Beanie just got up, went over and did it, and went and sat down and finished her lunch. To us it’s incredible, to her it was the right thing to do.”

Montgomery notified both parents over the phone hours after it happened and later rewarded the three kids with certificates for their heroic acts. When Beanie’s mother, Amy Peterson-Mar, first heard the news over the phone she started crying.

“When they said she saved a kid’s life, I let out a gasp. I started crying because I couldn’t believe it,” Peterson-Mar told ABC News. “That kid is breathing now because of my child.”

When Aniyah’s mother, Crisa Triplett, heard Beanie saved her child’s life, she too was in tears.

“When she told me the news how Beanie saved her, I was just in tears. That little girl is so remarkable and she will forever hold the biggest spot in my heart,” Triplett told ABC News. “I couldn’t express to her mother how thankful I was for her daughter and raising a little girl like that.”

However, the question remains, how exactly did a 6-year-old know how to do the Heimlich?

“I saw it on A.N.T. Farm,” Beanie said. “I asked my mom, Can people really do that? And she said, Yeah.”

Montgomery said even though it’s shocking to see a first grader step up in a time of panic, we shouldn’t underestimate the capabilities of children.

“She did it because it was the right thing to do,” Montgomery told ABC News. “It’s really important we understand how resilient children are. The fact that she did it and then sat down shows she did it without expectation of notice.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study: Looking for a Rush, 6% of Kids Play Deadly Choking Game

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The choking game has been around for decades, billed as a "safe" way to get a rush or a high from passing out.  According to a new study, about 6 percent of adolescents have played it at least once.  But doctors believe kids who play it may have little idea how deadly it is.

In the choking game, a person cuts off oxygen and blood flow to the brain with a towel, belt or rope, or hyperventilates until they pass out.  When the blood and oxygen rush back to the brain, it creates a euphoric high.

Also called knock out, space monkey or the pass out game, the choking game can lead to brain damage, seizures and head trauma.  And for some the game is fatal.

Although the choking game is not new, very little research has been done to investigate how often it happens or which kids are more likely to try it.  But the new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics gives a snapshot of who is engaging in this risky activity.

Researchers surveyed nearly 5,400 Oregon eighth graders, and 6.1 percent reported playing the choking game at least once in their lives.  Among those who had played, 64 percent had played more than once and 27 percent had done it more than five times.  Boys and girls were equally likely to have participated.

The researchers found that kids who participated in the game commonly engaged in other risky health behaviors.  About 16 percent of boys and 13 percent of girls who reported using alcohol, tobacco or marijuana on the health survey also reported playing the choking game.  Girls who reported being sexually active were four times as likely to participate in the choking game as those who had never had sex.

Robert Nystrom, adolescent health manager at the Oregon Public Health Division and one of the study's authors, said it's significant that kids who play the choking game are also experimenting with alcohol, drugs and sex.

"Risk-taking is a part of normal adolescent development.  The fact that a lot of adolescents are participating in these behaviors shouldn't surprise us," Nystrom said.  "What we want to do is prevent it."

Nystrom noted that the choking game is different from autoerotic asphyxiation, where the goal of near-strangulation is sexual gratification.  In the choking game, kids simply seek the rush that comes from passing out.

In 2008, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 82 deaths between 1995 and 2007 likely related to the choking game, but the numbers of children who die or suffer injury are probably underreported.

To prevent injuries and deaths from the choking game, Nystrom and his colleagues said more pediatricians need to be educated about the game and its warning signs, such as bruising around the neck, headaches and bloodshot eyes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is YouTube Helping 'Choking Game' Resurge Among Teens?

LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Called the choking game, the pass-out game or even California knockout, it has resurged among kids and young teens who see it on online video-sharing sites.

The choking game, in which a person uses auto-asphyxiation to pass out just for the rush of it, is not new. It's been around for years. But now kids are getting their friends to film them doing it and posting the videos on YouTube, which has breathed new life into this dangerous fad.

"I think the word 'game' sort of messed everybody up. They think it's just fun, like nothing's going to happen," said Simon Greiner, a sixth-grade student from Santa Monica, Calif., who recently attended an awareness meeting run by the advocacy group Erik's Cause: Help Stop The Choking Game.

Peer pressure to try the choking game can now come from a stranger on the Internet, and curious kids can look up a variety of ways to constrict oxygen to the brain, get a quick buzz and prove to their friends that they can take on the "challenge." But several kids accidentally kill themselves in the process.

Judy Rogg launched Erik's Cause after her son Erik died two years ago from the deadly game.

"A lot of kids make it look fun," Rogg said. "They're laughing. They don't realize the kid's on the floor twitching because he's having a seizure."

"A lot of kids say, 'Well, at least we're not doing drugs,'" Rogg continued. "They think it's an alternative, and they don't understand that they're killing brain cells."

Erik was 12 years old, a Boy Scout who had just earned his Marksmanship badge, when his mother found him dead after school one day.

"He took his Boy Scout rope and made very, very intricate slipknots," basically hanging himself, Rogg said. Before her son's death she said she had never heard of the "choking game."

"The police, they said, 'This was not a suicide, this was the choking game," and we looked at them and said, 'What are you talking about?" she said.

Dr. Thomas Andrew, the chief medical examiner for the state of New Hampshire, said data indicated that between 7 to 15 percent of all kids had tried some form of the choking game -- in other words, thousands of kids. Whether the method involved pressure on the neck or hyperventilation, he warned any attempt was dangerous.

"Seizures, brain damage, chronic headaches and close-head injury or death," Andrew said of the risks.

He added that the choking game should be on the radar screen of every youth mentor, scout leader, teacher, counselor and parent, because it is far from harmless fun.

Derek Gall, a high school sophomore from Randolph, Neb., said he learned the dangers of the "pass out game" the hard way when he tried it at school one day.

"I just got curious and looked up several different ways to do it. I found what seemed like the safest one to do," he said.

Gall found a video on YouTube that claimed to show a "safe" way to "pass out." The boy in the video said, "So what I'm about to show you is completely safe, don't listen to other people." He then proceeded to hyperventilate -- all caught on his webcam -- before crashing to the floor and hitting his head on furniture.

Curious to see if it would work on himself, Gall tried the same thing at school the next day. He passed out, collapsed and smashed his head on the hard concrete floor, fracturing part of the right side of his skull.

"All I remember is standing there and then being in the nurse's office," Gall said.

"I was terrified," said his mother, Jean Gall. "If that fracture had been any deeper, he would have paralyzed his facial nerve."

Gall had to be airlifted to a regional trauma center and only later did his parents learn from hospital staff that his concussion was likely a result of the choking game. Even Gall's little sister, 12-year-old Maggie, admitted it was a popular game among some of her peers. "If they like the buzz it gives them, then they do it again and again," she said.

The Galls believe they were lucky, because their son survived. At worst, his injuries will cost him the upcoming football season. Wanting to warn other kids, Derek said, "Even if you're curious to do it, don't do it."

Maggie Gall said she partially blamed YouTube for the spread of the game. "If kids are doing stuff on the Internet that is teaching other kids to do really bad things to themselves, then YouTube should take off those videos and not allow them on anymore....It's not OK."

YouTube users upload 60 hours of video every minute, and the website counts on users to flag videos that break the site's rules. In a statement to Nightline, a spokesman for YouTube said, "The safety of our users is important to us, and as such YouTube's Community Guidelines prohibit videos intended to encourage dangerous activities that risk serious physical harm. We routinely remove material according to these guidelines, and we encourage users to flag video for our attention so that we may continue to do so." YouTube removed several links provided to them by Nightline.

"[YouTube is] making access to an incredibly dangerous practice," said advocate Judy Rogg.

No reliable national data exist as to just how many kids have lost their lives to the choking game. Rogg said statistics are scanty, in part because there is no education about the practice and there is no death code for when kids accidentally kill themselves this way.

"They're often misclassified as suicides," she said.

Since the death of her son, Rogg has channeled her grief into action and developed a school curriculum on the choking game to spread word of its dangers to kids, parents and educators.

"It's such a silent epidemic," she said.

Rogg is currently working with schools in Southern California and hopes school districts throughout the country will start addressing the choking game, openly. Despite a number of deaths, Rogg said she is sometimes met with resistance.

"This is a very provocative topic that people are terrified to talk about," Rogg said. "It has the same stigma that trying to get drug and alcohol education into the schools had many years ago. When I went to school, they didn't teach about drugs and alcohol. And it was, 'If I tell them, they might try it.'"

Rogg said parents are fooling themselves if they think their kid doesn't know about the choking game, or won't come across other kids who do. "Even smart, strong kids make dumb choices with deadly consequences," she said.

While her son is gone, Rogg has made it her mission to make sure this deadly game won't kill someone else.

"He was on top of the world. He felt invincible. He had no clue what he was doing. He really had no clue," she said. "It kills me."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fourth Grader Saves Best Friend’s Life

Mark Johnston/Daily Herald(OREM, Utah) -- A fourth grader in Orem, Utah, is being recognized Monday for a heroic act of saving his best friend’s life at school.

Noah Webster Academy honored 10-year-old Carter Helt for saving the life of his friend, who was choking on a jawbreaker candy.

“It was pretty scary. He was like turning purple and it was freaking me out,” explained Helt.

Helt came to Gary Anderson’s rescue last week.

Anderson, 10, had been such a good student he was rewarded candy from the famous jawbreaker candy jar in the school’s library. With excitement, Anderson picked out a spicy and hot cinnamon-flavored jawbreaker called the Atomic Fireball, and threw it into his mouth.

“I was sucking on it too fast and it went to the back of my throat,” said Anderson. “I started banging on desks and started pointing to my throat and then Carter came over.”

Helt, who was sitting in the library at the time, heard his friend choking and immediately ran over to help. He started performing the Heimlich Maneuver until the jawbreaker came out.

“I put my arms around his belly and pushed up, and it came out of his mouth,” said Helt. “I wasn’t sure it would work the first time, but it did.”

It was then Anderson realized his best friend since first grade had saved his life, and Helt had learned the Heimlich Maneuver only two weeks earlier.

“Yes I was really scared,” said Anderson. “And really happy after.”

After the incident, the two boys returned to class as normal. School director Rick Kempton went to find the two boys after hearing about the incident.

“I went over to the library where I heard it happened, and the two librarians in there were visibly shaken,” said Kempton. “They had already gone back to the classroom. I checked to make sure he was okay, which he was, and thanked Carter in front of the class for what he did.”

Noah Webster Academy school officials decided to honor Helt for his heroism in front of the entire school Monday.

Gary’s mother, Karina Anderson, said she was shocked when she received a phone call from the school, and even more shocked to find out a 10-year-old had saved her son’s life.

“I’m happy there was someone who was paying attention,” said Karina Anderson. “He knew what to do and he did it.”

Helt’s mother said she was also in shock after hearing about her son’s heroic act, and couldn’t believe it the first time he told her.

“He got in the car and he was really excited and said to me, ‘I saved my best friend Gary’s life,’” said Chrystal Helt. “I said, you did what? I was surprised! I was just really shocked because I didn’t even know Carter knew the Heimlich Maneuver. I probably would have panicked and done it wrong, so I’m surprised. It was really cool and I was really proud.”

As for the candy jar, school officials say they’ve gotten rid of the jawbreakers as a present. They’ve now been replaced with school supplies.

Kempton joked, “And if Gary chokes on those he’s going to be in trouble!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Writing Can Help Avoid Choking Under Pressure

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Jasmin Sultana, 24, of Queens, N.Y., knows only too well what it means to choke under pressure.

The first time she took her driving test, tears welled up in her eyes and she could not see the road. She pulled over mid-test, stopped the car, and told the tester, "I just can't do this."

"Even though I was prepared for it, leading up to it I was really sweaty," said Sultana. "I started to feel nervous, and during the test I started crying."

The second and third time she took the test, Sultana could feel her stress level building. Again, she choked.

"I just couldn't concentrate," she said. "It became such a long process to pass this test."

Sultana was wrapping up her final college year before she got the nerve to try it again. This time she brought a friend along. Right before the test, her friend assured her there was nothing to worry about.

Sultana thought about failure, she told her friend. She thought about what her tester thought about her. She thought taking a deep breath to quell the anxiety won't work for her. But she also thought, "I've got to pass this thing." She didn't want to take this test again.

"Telling someone put things in perspective for me, that it's just a test that I've been prepared for," said Sultana, who went on to pass the test.

Letting out all of her fearful thoughts before test time may have done the trick, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Science. The study suggests that simply writing about your anxiety just a few minutes before a high-stakes event can help you perform significantly better.

Researchers conducted four separate studies that focused on test-taking anxieties of high school and college students. Before giving the students a test, researchers assigned different groups of students with high performance anxiety to either write down their anxieties about taking the upcoming test, write freely about any topic, or not write at all.

"I am afraid I am going to make a mistake," wrote one student in the expressive writing group.

"I just want to stop thinking about how I am going to fail," another student wrote.

The study found that those who wrote about their test anxiety in some cases received a whole grade letter higher than those who wrote about an unrelated event, or did not take the time to write.

"It's really a counterintuitive finding -- that dwelling on your worries can have a positive impact," said Sian Beilock, an associate professor in the department of psychology in The University of Chicago and co-author of the study.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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