CHICAGO (AP) -- Swallowing chewing gum can cause some sticky medical problems, and children who are too young to understand that shouldn't get gum, doctors say.
Three young children who were frequent gum swallowers needed medical treatment to clear wads of gum blocking their digestive tracts, researchers reported in the August issue of Pediatrics.
One child, a 4-year-old boy, had been constipated for two years after having been given gum as a reward in toilet training. His family reported that he habitually chewed and swallowed five to seven pieces a day. His intestine became blocked, and doctors had to remove the gum through his rectum, researchers said.
A 4-year old girl had a similar experience, they said.
``When a toddler has chronic, unremitting constipation, you should think about whether they're gum swallowers,'' said the lead author, Dr. David E. Milov, chief of gastroenterology at Nemours Children's Clinic in Orlando, Fla.
In the other case, a 1-year-old girl who was brought to the hospital coughing and drooling was found to have swallowed gum and coins. Doctors removed a wad containing both from her esophagus, the tube that carries food to the stomach.
Youngsters should not be given gum until they are old enough to understand the importance of not swallowing it, Milov and his colleagues wrote after treating all three children within two years at Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando.
Similar cases have been reported previously in medical literature, he said.