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Physicians Aware of Choking Game; Few Treat in Practice

Potentially fatal asphyxiation practice warrants anticipatory guidance for young patients

MONDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly two-thirds of physicians surveyed were aware of the choking game, an activity typically played by children and teenagers that has been linked to numerous fatalities in recent years, but a small percentage discussed it with adolescent patients, according to research published online Dec. 14 in Pediatrics.

Julie L. McClave, M.D., of the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and colleagues analyzed data from a survey of 163 pediatricians and family practitioners who reported their knowledge and attitudes regarding this self-inflicted asphyxiation activity.

The researchers found that the majority (68.1 percent) were familiar with the choking game, and, of those who knew about it, 61.3 percent had heard about it through the popular media. Fewer than 8 percent of physicians familiar with the game had suspected that a patient participated in it. Although nearly 65 percent felt the choking game should be included in anticipatory guidance for patients, only 1.9 percent who were familiar with the game discussed it with adolescent patients.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics places importance on providing timely anticipatory guidance to children and adolescents. On the basis of this study, we think that the choking game should be included in this discussion. Moreover, pediatricians and family practitioners should be provided with reliable accurate information about the dangers of the choking game, to pass on to their adolescent patients and their parents," the authors write.

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