Abu Dhabi doctors hit with spate of cases as children swallow Dh1 coins

Parental negligence is blamed as about 15 youngsters per month end up in hospital

Doctors in Abu Dhabi treated nearly 260 children who swallowed dangerous items such as batteries and coins during an 18 month period.
Powered by automated translation

Doctors at an Abu Dhabi hospital have seen a spate of cases of children swallowing small objects - with the Dh1 coin the most common hazard.

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City saw 258 admissions in an 18 month period between 2016 and 2018, the majority involving children aged between two and four.

The trend continues and medics are blaming parental negligence in many cases.

Doctors said serious cases resulted in intestinal surgery and urged mothers and fathers to keep a closer eye on their children.

In total, the hospital has spent more than Dh600,000 on treatments.

"On average we've seen fifteen patents per month of children swallowing foreign bodies - the bulk of which are dirhams. Awareness campaigns don't seem to be working," said Dr Mohamad Miqdady, chief of pediatric, gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at SKMC.

“These numbers are way too much. A big hospital in the US would see one case of a child swallowing a coin every few months. Here it is much more common by seven-to-ten-fold.”

He said the solution is education for new parents "unfortunately it isn’t working yet".

These numbers are way too much. A big hospital in the US would see one case of a child swallowing a coin every few months

"We always say to parents with young toddlers not to keep anything in the house that is smaller than the child’s mouth," Dr Miqdady said.

The next most common objects were batteries and magnets, which doctors have warned can cause serious harm.

“Currently we have a ten-year-old Emirati patient who swallowed a magnet and has to have part of his intestine removed as a complication that resulted,” he said.

“The problem with magnets is the one will be in one lobe of the intestine and the other in another part and they stick to each other and never move.”

Batteries can burn a hole in the stomach unless quickly removed.

He said the one-dirham coin is easier to pass out than the six-sided half dirham coin.

“Because it is hexagonal in shape the half dirham is more difficult to manage and most likely require an endoscopy. The dirham is bigger but easier to pass,” Dr Miqdady said.

Dr Nafea Al Yasi, a pediatric gastroenterologist, said such avoidable cases are a burden on the health system.

“More awareness campaigns are needed,” he said.

"Children will swallow anything beginning six months of age," said Dr Al Yasi.

"Coins are not a big concern but what we fear most are small, flat batteries that look like coins," he said.

"At one point we had forty cases of children who swallowed batteries. Batteries start burning the surrounding area once swallowed and most be removed immediately. Sometimes patients arrive late which poses a big problem. Parents must head immediately to the hospital," he said.