Doctors have issued a stark warning that young children can choke to death on whole grapes, describing three cases of children who needed emergency treatment:

  • A five-year-old boy choked while eating grapes at an after-school club. Despite first aid, the grape could not be dislodged and the child had a heart attack and died.
  • A 17-month-old boy choked while eating grapes with his family at home. Paramedics were called and the grape was eventually removed but the little boy still died.
  • A two-year-old choked while snacking on grapes in the park. He suffered two seizures and spent five days in intensive care before thankfully making a full recovery.

The doctors warn that food is responsible for over half of all fatal choking accidents, with grapes the third most common cause of death in food-related incidents. 

Why are grapes so dangerous?

The size and shape of grapes means they can completely plug a child’s airway. And the tight seal produced by the grape’s smooth surface makes them difficult to dislodge with standard first aid techniques.

Young children are particularly vulnerable to choking on grapes because:

  • They don’t have a full set of teeth and are still learning to chew properly.
  • Their swallow reflex is still developing.
  • Their airway is very small.

It’s why we advise that grapes should be chopped in half lengthways and ideally in quarters.

Your help to raise awareness

Doctors are worried that a lack of awareness among parents, carers and professionals could be leaving young children at risk. Please can you share our practical safety tips.