By STACY M. BROWN
For the Pocono Record
August 01, 2014
It’s the age-old question: Why do children stick things where they don’t belong?
And, for pediatricians who treat young ones after they’ve stuck the head of a small doll up their noses or have accidentally swallowed a Lego, the answers remain the same.
“It’s a very common phenomenon that you typically will see in toddlers,” said Dr. Olubunmi Salako, associate medical director of pediatrics for Pocono Health System.
Salako said children are explorers, particularly when they’re toddlers.
As babies, they stick just about everything in their mouths and, when they get a little older, they try other places, such as their noses.
Among the more common things found trapped in a toddler’s nose are beads, coins and toy parts, Salako said. However, there have also been shocking discoveries as well as more dangerous objects, she said.
“One of my most surprising finds was a live cockroach,” Salako said. “It clearly crawled in there, and the child had been crying and crying and even woke up screaming.” She was able to extract the bug, and all was well again.
Salako cautioned that button batteries and magnets could present the most danger. “If you ingest them, they can break down your tissues. Button batteries, which are found in things like watches, can get inside you, and they can start conducting and cause an electrical current. It could be deadly,” she said.
Getting the message to kids
Recognizing the penchant of children to stick objects where they shouldn’t and to do things that could lead to their harm, Dr. Jerald Altman, an Arizona-based otolaryngologist (head and neck surgeon), teamed with former Yale University student Richard Jacobson to write a children’s book aimed at helping to prevent such accidents.
The book, “Don’t Stick Sticks up Your Nose! Don’t Stuff Stuff in Your Ears,” is available from ZonaBooks Publishing. Altman said he began to develop the idea after he and his wife adopted a child.
Like most children, Altman’s son would jump on his bed, and Altman said he thought of the “no more monkeys jumping on the bed” nursery rhyme.
“If we can teach children not to jump on the bed with rhymes, then why not teach them not to stick things in their nose and mouth?” Altman said.
“Parents can tell kids over and over not to do something, but kids will do it anyway. I realized that they don’t listen to Mom and Dad, but they might pay attention to a fun book,” he said.
Your child is not alone
In his practice, Altman said he, too, has seen such foreign objects as rocks, beads and even insects in his patients’ noses.
“Foreign objects in a child’s nose or ears can lead to serious health risks ranging from infections to blocked airways to punctured eardrums … things neither you nor your child wants to experience,” Altman said. “And, of course, there’s the expense, including copays, deductibles and, at times, general anesthesia.”
In a simple and entertaining way, Altman’s award-winning book explains the do’s and don’ts of sticking objects where they don’t belong.
He said it’s so simple that children as young as 2 can understand.
“It’s about prevention and awareness,” he said. “I’d much rather you and your child read my book than visit me in my office.”