Parents have something new to worry about in the realm of children's safety.
Pediatric surgeons have been seeing children and teens who come to a hospital after accidentally inhaling small, handmade blow-gun darts, according to a warning published in the journal Pediatrics. Children are looking at online videos to learn how to make the device and darts, then inadvertently inhaling the darts.
At Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, surgeons recently treated a trio of boys over a three-months period after each had inhaled a dart.
Each teen had to be anesthetized so that a bronchoscopic procedure could be used to remove the object, Dr. Kris R. Jatana, pediatric surgeon and throat specialist at the hospital, told the Los Angeles Times.
"We know that there are other cases that haven't been widely reported in the literature," said Jatana, who is a lead author of the warning in Pediatrics. She said colleagues elsewhere have come across similar cases at their facilities.
In two of the cases, the boys presented with breathing problems and the reason showed up in X-rays.
"The researchers found that all three patients presented with cough and reported aspiration, and two of the three patients had wheezing. Two of the three patients initially hesitated to explain their predicament, but all eventually admitted constructing and inadvertently aspirating the blow-gun dart. A needle-shaped, metallic foreign body was revealed on chest radiograph in all cases. In all three patients, the blow-gun dart was removed using emergent rigid bronchoscopy, and symptoms resolved without complication. Twenty websites were identified that had instructions on how to make homemade blow-gun darts. Only a few of the websites provided any safety warnings," said an article by HealthDay News.
"Blow-gun dart aspiration, although relatively uncommon, can have serious consequences," the authors wrote in Pediatrics. "Certainly, a high index of suspicion for aspiration is necessary in the adolescent male population presenting with vague respiratory complaints. A low threshold for chest radiography in this population can assist in diagnosis."
The L.A. Times article said that various YouTube videos, including from "survivalists" detail the design of the darts from household items. The tubes are usually a piece of PVC, the injury caused when a careless individual inhales while the blow gun is pressed to their lips.
Although the three reported cases were simple to treat, it's possible that the blow-gun darts could cause serious injury, the pediatricians said.
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