Popcorn is a delicious treat that people enjoy many different ways. It’s the perfect snack at the theater but especially during an at-home family movie night.
But, a family in Colorado recently found out the hard way that it’s not a good snack for young children.
Nicole and Jake Goddard have three children. The family enjoys a movie night together every week, always accompanied by a big bowl of popcorn. But one night showed them just how dangerous the seemingly harmless snack can be.
When their youngest child, Nash, started to choke on some popcorn, they thought that it was over and done with.
“He started making a gagging noise and [Jake} jumped up really fast to grab him,” said Nicole Goddard. “He was getting ready to do the Heimlich on him and then he took a breath.”
The Goddard’s assumed that it was simply a case of “going down the wrong pipe” and that once Nash started breathing there was nothing more to worry about. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Several days later, Nicole Goddard noticed that her son was continuing to cough.
At first, she thought he was maybe coming down with a mild cold. But when the symptoms continued, she felt more and more worried. Finally, when she noticed that her son was feverish and struggling to breathe, she knew she had to take action.
As soon as they got to Nash’s pediatrician, her fears were confirmed: there was something very wrong. The pediatrician sent them to the hospital where they did a chest X-ray, which was inconclusive but concerning.
The medical staff decided to fly Nash to Denver immediately for a bronchoscopy, a procedure that examines the inside of the airways.
“At 6 pm they put Nash under and performed the procedure,” Nicole Goddard wrote on Facebook. “I paced and cried the entire time my little man was in surgery. Jake arrived at the hospital just in time to go to recovery and see Nash.”
The diagnosis? Aspired popcorn into the lungs.
The popcorn had become embedded in the lining of the lungs, developing into an infection surrounded by pus. Nash also had pneumonia in one lung. His lungs were severely inflamed and the doctor removed six separate pieces of popcorn. However, due to the extent of the inflammation, he wasn’t positive that it had all been removed.
The Goddard’s allowed Nash to be admitted with the plan to do another bronchoscopy in 48 hours.
“We’re so thankful our little man came out ok,” Nicole Goddard wrote on Facebook. “All of this over popcorn which is eaten on a regular basis in our home. I got a lecture of course on how popcorn isn’t supposed to be given to anyone under 5. I hate to use the excuse he’s our third child so I overlook and don’t pay as close attention to the do’s and don’ts as we did with our first. … I wrote [this post] as an eye opener for people to see how something that you think is fine can quickly turn into something bad!”
Even though the Goddard’s have several older children, it’s not surprising that they weren’t familiar with the rules regarding popcorn.
Many parents aren’t aware that popcorn isn’t safe for children below kindergarten age. In fact, it’s a leading cause of choking injuries and deaths in children.
Children who are under the age of four are most likely to die of choking with more than 12,000 admitted into the emergency room every year. However, once they reach the age of four or five, children can break food down better and are less likely to choke.
Because foods like hot dogs and grapes are also choking hazards, they shouldn’t be given to children under the age of five. Thankfully, Nash Goddard is doing just fine. But his parents want others to take a warning from his story.
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