Medical expert: Small bits of hard foods can slip into the trachea instead of the esophagus, leading to choking.
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
With Tu Bishvat around the corner, parents are advised not to give nuts or seeds, both traditional holiday foods and both of which pose a choking hazard, to children under five. With an undeveloped swallowing reflex, small bits of hard foods can slip into the trachea instead of the esophagus, says Dr. Oded Poznanski, a senior emergency department physician at the Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel.
In addition, dried and fresh fruits should be cut lengthwise so they do not block breathing if they get stuck in the trachea. Large seeds and pits should be removed from fruit before it is given to preschool-age children.
In the event of choking, call Magen David Adom at 101, but parents should take a first-aid course and learn the Heimlich Maneuver. Do not throw water on an unconscious child, as it can be drawn into the lungs. Turn the child on his side and try to remove liquid emanating from his throat. Do not insert a finger into his mouth to remove a foreign object unless it is close to his mouth, as doing this can push the blockage farther in.
Dried fruits are full of sugar and very fattening, says Schneider clinical dietitian Dana Resnick, and nuts - while healthful - are full of fat. It is best to eat them without sugar and not roasted to preserve their nutritional value, she said.
Meanwhile, the Israel Cancer Association said in honor of Tu Bishvat that almonds are especially nutritious, with new Canadian research showing that their peels are packed with antioxidants, which help protect against cancer.
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