Anyone with young kids knows there's nothing they like more than eating stuff that's not for human consumption the very second you take your eye off them. This is especially difficult around the holidays when society gets together and agrees to celebrate the season through the use of child-unfriendly plastics, microplastics, and other festive choking hazards. 'Tis the season of "NO TIMMY, PUT THAT DOWN!".
Now, in a seasonal warning, doctors in Australia have documented a medical crisis scarier than Krampus, in order to raise awareness of the dangers of everything looking a bit glittery at this time of year.
"Christmas is known for festive decorations. Many a table will be laced with confetti stars and other paraphernalia this season," the authors wrote in the report published in the Medical Journal of Australia. "We believe the potential dangers associated with ingestion of these particular foreign bodies deserve attention."
Parents of a 9-month-old baby girl took their daughter to a hospital after a choking episode during the holidays. Worryingly, her mother had spotted blood in the baby's saliva following the incident. However, as nobody had spotted any foreign body inhalation and her examination was "unremarkable" she was discharged, the doctors believing she had choked on her own saliva.
A few days later, however, she was brought back to hospital. By now, she wasn't eating, was experiencing difficulty breathing, running a fever and had a cough. Upon a physical examination, she was found to have an intermittent wheeze. This time she was diagnosed with bronchiolitis and remained in hospital for three days, but her ordeal still wasn't over.
Her fevers and reduction of oral intake continued, and her lethargy got worse. When she was brought back for treatment six days later, she had also developed drooling and what looked like a mass on her neck. With the mass appearing to be an abscess, she was given an ultrasound and a CT scan to get a better look at the problem, which is where it starts to get Christmassy.
As well as an abscess significantly narrowing her airways, the doctors discovered a clear star shape deep within her neck. For the layperson, star shapes are not usually found within the human neck.
The girl was immediately taken to surgery and after an emergency incision, the Christmas decoration – a sharp confetti star – was removed. She was then given five days of intravenous antibiotics. She was then released and there have been no reported complications.
"Despite their flexible nature, the sharp points of confetti stars appear to increase the risk of lodgement in the upper aerodigestive tract, and their reflective surfaces attract the interests of young children with a propensity to place things in their mouths," the doctors wrote in the report, calling for physicians and the public to be aware of these cases, as well as a review of warning labels on similar products.
"While uncommon, the potential for similar cases to present over these Christmas holidays exist."
Now, is also good for a timely reminder that scientists are also urging people to ditch glitter, seeing as it is a non-biodegradable microplastic, and is terrible for the environment.