BENGALURU: A seven-month-old baby almost chocked to death after eating a groundnut. The parents who fed the baby, however, were unaware of why the child was having breathing difficulties. A CT scan, that detected the nut stuck in the trachea (windpipe), and an emergency bronchoscopy, which is usually not performed on infants, saved the baby.
The baby was brought to the hospital with complaints of fever, cold, cough and fast breathing. When doctors examined her, they observed that she had difficulty in breathing, low oxygen levels and poor air movement in her lungs. Since she was in a serious condition, she was admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. It was only after the parents were questioned, the doctors found that the baby was fed peanuts.
A CT scan of the chest showed an object lodged in the trachea.
“Usually foreign bodies in babies get stuck on either side of the air passage, causing a collapse of the lung on that side. But in this case, the passage of air to both the lungs was compromised and it was stuck in between. This is termed as the vegetative foreign body, wherein the foreign body can swell up, worsening the obstruction. The baby could have a cardiac arrest,” said Dr Mukunda Ramachandra, consultant pediatric, surgeon/urologist at Rainbow Children’s Hospital in Bannerghatta Road.
An emergency bronchoscopy procedure was performed on Wednesday under general anaesthesia, wherein an instrument was introduced through a small tube with a camera. “The anaesthesia was getting obstructed due to the peanut, causing oxygen desaturation, which could lead to brain damage. We had to carry out the procedure in two minutes, which in other cases takes a minimum of 15 minutes,” said Dr Mukunda.
Neeraj Lal, Cluster Head and VP, Rainbow Children’s Hospital said, “It is important for parents to cut food into small pieces. Strictly avoid giving nuts to babies as they have poor cough reflexes and can choke on small, slippery food items.” Dr Mukunda added, “Babies tend to put objects in their mouth and hence it is important to keep small objects out of their reach.”