What a mislaid hairpin can do to your child

X-ray shows how 4-year-old managed to swallow a bobby pin

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Doctors are warning parents to be careful about where they leave bobby pins lying around after a 4-year-old boy in Saudi Arabia incredibly managed to swallow one. The boy complained of a pain on his upper right abdomen and between his ribs and hip for 3 months afterwards and he also suffered from an irregular fever and chills.

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His parents took him to the doctor where he was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection, but then a course of antibiotics made no difference.

Finally, the boy was given an X-ray, which revealed a hair pin lodged in his abdomen – exactly where the pain was coming from.

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After the bobby pin was found, the boy admitted to swallowing it around a month before his symptoms started. It was hoped that the pin would pass through his system but his pain continued. A CT scan then revealed it had pierced the boy’s right kidney.

It turned out that the ends of the hairpin had rusted and had become sharp enough to pierce through his small intestine and into his kidney.

Fortunately, the boy was able to have surgery to remove the hairpin, and made a full recovery, getting discharged from hospital 7 days later.

“First, when my son started to complain, I and most of the doctors who saw him were not worried because he did not show any alarming symptoms,” his dad said. “But once I was informed that my son had a ‘bobby pin’ stuck in his kidney and that he would need an operation, I started to blame myself for that delay in management.”

“I promise to be more aware of my children’s behaviour.”

We all make the mistake of leaving small things around but this is a good reminder of how young children can swallow the most incredible items – even a 7cm hair pin. The British Medical Journal Case Report says it’s extremely common for young children to swallow these kinds of small objects and that they “usually pass harmlessly through the gastrointestinal tract”.

“Coins and bones are the most commonly ingested and complications are rare.”

But we’re certainly going to be neater with our hairpins,,,

Photos: BMJ and Shutterstock

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