Popcorn is a staple for most family movie nights, yet many don’t know of the dangers of popcorn for young children.
I know what you’re probably thinking “Gosh, what now?” As if the list of a mothers’ worries isn’t long enough already!
As a mother, sometimes it feels like everything is a danger, and you can do nothing right. It can be overwhelming to keep on top of all the “dos” and “don’ts”. But this is one “don’t” that you’ll want to store in your noggin.
It’s a Friday night, all your childless friends are sipping wine and putting on their heels for a night on the town. You’re in your pjs, hair in a bun with half a can of dry shampoo (because you haven’t washed it for a week), and the kids are nagging you to watch Toy Story 4 (again).
You appease them, and try to make the best of the situation (despite the fact you know every line from the movie backwards at this point). What better way to round off the night than a big fresh bowl of buttery goodness, right? Wrong.
An Afternoon Snack Turns into an Emergency…
For mother Cheree, from Oh So Busy Mum, she found this out the hard way – as have many other mothers (myself included). According to Cheree, her then three year old daughter was sitting on the couch eating plain popcorn.
Something that was a regular occurrence in their house, when suddenly her daughter starting coughing and choking a little.
Cheree gave her daughter some water and thought nothing more of it. Minutes later, her daughter began coughing and wheezing. Within half an hour it had gotten bad enough to warrant a rushed trip to the Emergency Room.
A Mother’s Instinct…
It was here that doctors treated her daughter for what they claimed to be a “sudden onset of asthma” despite having been in perfect health before the popcorn incident. Cheree wasn’t convinced.
“They released her the following day with the diagnosis of a “sudden onset of asthma”. While I didn’t quite believe it, I accepted it, as every doctor we saw agreed it wouldn’t be the popcorn, because she improved with Ventolin throughout the night. They told us that if it was the popcorn, she wouldn’t have improved with Ventolin and treatment” – Cheree, Oh So Busy Mum
It would take another four long weeks, multiple trips to the Emergency Room being shrugged off, before finally finding a GP who would listen to Cheree’s concerns and sent for an immediate x-ray. The x-ray showed what Sheree had feared all along. The popcorn her daughter had eaten, had aspirated.
Her daughter now had pneumonia and inflammation of the lung. It would be another agonisingly long week before they were able to see the respiratory specialist.
“We had to wait one long week to see the specialist (now on week 5) and as soon as he listened to her chest and looked at the x-ray, he sent us straight back to the emergency room with a stern letter for them to finally treat her and investigate further. That afternoon she was taken into emergency surgery to remove the piece of popcorn that she had in fact aspirated on 5 weeks earlier” – Cheree
By this point, emergency surgery was performed to remove the popcorn. But the damage to her lung was already done. Cheree and her daughter now attend six-monthly appointments with the specialist to check her lung function.
So, When Is Popcorn Safe?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says popcorn should not be offered to children under the age of five. Which, much like Cheree, is something I never knew until my own daughter choked quite badly on a piece. Thankfully, all she was left with was a fright. But it could have been much worse.
A seemingly harmless movie night snack, could turn your Friday night into a real mothers worst nightmare. So, if your children are under five, try and keep it off the menu. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!