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Information about foreign body


What is a foreign body?

A foreign body is any object that is placed in a person’s body through a natural orifice ( i.e. nose, ear, mouth, etc.). In the Susy Safe International Registry are recorded only the data related to cases of foreign bodies, organic and inorganic, that have entered a child’s body through the nose, ears or mouth and are located in these places or in the upper aerodigestive tract (i.e.: oesophagus, bronchus, lungs, ...).


How do foreign body injuries occur?

Through play and everyday activities children come into contact with different objects and the insertion of a foreign body in the nose, ear or mouth is a common event. The insertion of an object into the ear canal can cause serious damage but hardly represents a life-threatening event. In contrast, inhalation or aspiration of a foreign body can be a very serious event sometimes resulting in fatal outcome. Foreign body ingestions also involves high risks because some of them can cause gastrointestinal perforation or bowel obstruction. Even though the spectrum of foreign bodies varies from country to country, depending on the diet and habits of the population, foreign bodies that most frequently cause injury, are small food items and spherical or circular objects like marbles, beads and coins.



Why is it important to be informed about this type of injuries?

Suffocation caused by the aspiration/ingestion of a foreign body is still a major cause of infant death and is the leading cause of death in children under one year of age. In Italy, for example, according to ISTAT data (National Institute of Statistics), 27% of deaths in children aged 0 to 4 years is due to suffocation caused by the inhalation of a foreign body. At European level, the data provided by the 2003 RPA Report shows an alarming situation: it is estimated that, in the European Union, the number of accidents per year in children aged 0 to 14, is of about 50.000, 1% of which with fatal outcome.

In addition, it is important to pay particular attention to certain items, such as batteries, which require immediate action because once ingested they release corrosive acids that can cause serious injury. Depending on the nature, the location and the degree of obstruction, a foreign body can generate a wide range of clinical symptoms. According to data collected in the Susy Safe Registry, 12% of children suffered complications.



Spread the knowledge

Being aware of this type of injuries and the risk posed by common household objects, is the most effective form of prevention. You can prevent these accidents by promoting participation in the Susy Safe Project and spreading the knowledge of such accidents. For more information have a look at the following free printable materials:


3 Informative Scientific Papers:


First Aid

First Aid Guidelines:


Learn the important Pediatric Lifesaving Maneuvers: through knowledge and information dissemination it is possible to drastically reduce the number of accidents.