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Ask Dr. D. Love Your Own Question
Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 18449
Experience:  Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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There . My baby girl has just been playing with one of

Customer Question

Hi there .
My baby girl has just been playing with one of her toys when I came to pack away I noticed that it had one or two plastic tags left in the toy where it was attached to the label I thought I had cut most of them out . She did cough a little whilst playing but I didn't think anything of it ? Would I know if she swallowed a tag ? I'm concerned it could in bed itself in her throat or tummy it's only tiny but I'm a tiny t shape so does have sharp edges ?
Many thanks in advance
Claire .
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Hello from JustAnswer.
You would not necessarily know whether a tag was swallowed. In most cases of a child swallowing a foreign object, it will pass through the system without difficulty, and there would be no indication that it has happened.
However, if the tag were to get caught or embedded on the way down while being swallowed, then yes, there would typically be symptoms that would indicate that there are problems, either because of gagging, vomiting, or coughing. And the coughing would be more significant than a little coughing that did not appear concerning at the time.
As long as she is not having symptoms, then there is no reason for you to be concerned about whether she has swallowed one of these tags.
If I can provide any additional information, please let me know.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok thank you for your reply I panicked slightly . Also there was a little hole on the edging of the toy and I can see the stuffing she had a slight bit of fluff on her mouth but nothing else , will this harm her if she swallowed any ? Also with the tag I'm concerned that what if it does in bed itself in her throat lining or something could it stay there for years and cause problems like cancer ect ? I googled and this is what came up so I've scared myself now .
Many thanks
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
If she were to have swallowed a small amount of fluff used to package the ty, that would not be a problem.
While there is a theoretic possibility that the tag may embed in the throat without causing symptoms and then cause problems many years later, this is not a realistic concern. Statistically, it is more likely that she would die in a car accident for you to take her to get checked, and we do not worry about risks that are this small.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok thank you . If it has got stuck somewhere what problems can it cause later on ? Is something like this linked to cancer ?
Many thanks
Claire .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
The primary risk would be for infection or for scarring to form around the tag. Swallowing a small plastic tag is not realistically associated with a risk for cancer.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok I was worried if it stayed stuck in the body for years it may trigger this . Would the body eventually break it down ? She seems fine but do you think I need to get her checked out ?
Many thanks .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Whether the body can break it down depends upon its composition, but if it is plastic, the body usually cannot break it down, so usually walls it off by surrounding it with fibrous tissue.
As I said above, if she is not having symptom, then there is no reason for concern that she swallowed one of these tags, so also no need to get her checked out.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok thank you no she seems fine it's just whilst she was playing she did cough and urge but that may not have been related but I can't help but worry about it . If her body does do the fibrous tissue thing will this cause future problems ? Is there anything I should look out for ? Sorry I'm a new mum and panic about everything I think .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Walling off a foreign object with fibrous tissue will usually not cause problems, but you should monitor for gagging, coughing or vomiting, as I noted above.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok that's great thank you for your help .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
You are most welcome.
Please remember to provide a positive rating so that I am credited for assisting you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes I will do . Do you think if the tag past her throat and then got stuck somewhere else there would also be symptoms ? I'm just thinking of she did swallow it down but then it's got stuck would there be symptoms then?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Yes, if it gets stuck somewhere else, it will typically cause symptoms.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok thank you was it just if it embeds in the throat that there wouldn't be symptoms ?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
I am sorry for the delay, but I was away from the computer.
No, as I said above, if the tag were to get caught or embedded on the way down while being swallowed, there would typically be symptoms that would indicate that there are problems, either because of gagging, vomiting, or coughing.
The situation in which there would not be any symptoms is when the object is swallowed and simply passes through the gut, which is the usual situation when a child swallows a foreign object.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok thank you very much I will keep a look out in her nappies . As I said apart from the initial cough and urge there hasn't been anything continued . Am I right to think if she had of swallowed anything at all she would have been unsettled and shown further symptoms .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
No, that is not correct, because as I said, foreign objects will usually just pass through the system and not cause any symptoms, so if you do not witness the swallowing, you would usually never know. And smaller objects would not be apparent in the stool.
You would be correct to say that if the object swallowed became embedded or otherwise is causing problem, then she would have symptoms. But to know if she had swallowed anything cannot be determined, because it usually does not cause symptoms.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok thank you . These are the tags in question . They are quite small but sharp on the T shape bit so I'm hoping surely I would know if one didn't pass through . I'm only fretting as my friend who has worked in oncology had said foreign objects can after chronic inflammation cause cells to mutate to eventually lead to cancer . That's what has scared me .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
These tags are so small that you could easily miss them in the stool.
There is nothing in the medical literature to support the statement by your friend that swallowing a foreign object can lead to cancer, by any mechanism.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They are tiny but she is only breastfed at present so her stools are quite loose I thought I may see them .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Yes, you might see them, but not seeing them does not prove that she did not swallow one.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok so then should I look out for symptoms that it may of got stuck somewhere ?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Yes, as I noted above.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok sorry it's late and I'm trying to make sure I'm being thorough with her health . So just to clarify if there were any chronic inflammation or fibrous tissue would I know by the way she is to then seek further help ?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
If there is sufficient inflammation or fibrous tissue to cause problems, then yes, it would cause symptoms. If the inflammation or fibrosis is minor and not a problem, it will also not cause symptoms.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok so if it's minor will that mean it will of passed through and not chronic
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Or that it is chronic, but minor and not a problem.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't really understand what that means as surely if something's chronic it's continuing ?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
But that does not mean that it is a problem. If there is a foreign object that get embedded in the body and is causing minor inflammation or fibrosis, but is not causing other problems, we will usually not know that they are there, but if they are accidentally discovered, we will leave them alone.
You are worrying too much about nothing. You asked what would happen if the object gets embedded rather than passing through the system, and this is what would happen. However, it is still not likely to get embedded, as it will typically pass through the system. But if it happens to be the rare case of becoming embedded, yet is small and causes a small area of chronic inflammation or fibrosis, and is not causing any other symptoms, it is not a problem. We do not do studies to look for foreign objects in someone that is not having symptoms.
You only need to worry if he develops any symptoms. Period. Any scenario in which she is not having symptoms is not a concern.
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dr love I forgot to ask. Before I rated . If with this scenario it had caused minor chronic inflammation which can come with no symptoms . Would there have still been symptoms seen today with my daughter and her initially possibly swallowing the tag , like the initial hours after I mean ?
Many thanks
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
No. In the rare case of minor chronic inflammation causing no symptoms, then there would be no symptoms seen in the first hours or days after the tag is swallowed.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok so when you say rare case do you mean minor chronic inflammation would carry symptoms for a baby of this age .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
It means what I told you above - that the swallowed foreign object will typically pass without difficulty, so will not cause either inflammation or fibrosis.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Even though the T shape end of the tag was so thick and quite sharp ? I tried to break it to see and it wouldn't snap very easily . How can we be so sure this wouldn't get hooked in the digestion track anywhere may I ask ?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also my friend who's a GP sent me this information . Would you not agree with it then with minor inflammation ? . Any inflammation will always cause symptoms such as redness (increased vascularity), swelling, increased temperature, and pain.
Sorry I'm just trying to make sense of it all as I am worried .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Yes, if it is swallowed, it will almost always pass through the entire gut without difficulty, and we know this because of years of clinical studies and experience.
If there are no symptoms, this is not a problem. You are worrying about nothing.
It is not true that minor inflammation will always cause symptoms. There are many examples of people that have no symptoms and then have a screening test during which minor inflammatory conditions are found.
Please provide a positive rating.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok but this wouldn't be classed a chronic would it ? As this is what I have read can cause cancer
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12490959
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
This does not mean what Dr Ravoof implied. It is certainly true that certain inflammatory conditions increase the risk for cancer. But there are many inflammatory conditions that are not associated with an increased risk for cancer. So, you cannot say that simply because chronic inflammation is present there will be a risk for cancer. That is simply not true and there is no clinical evidence that shows that chronic inflammation always carries a risk for cancer.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
So am I safe to think that this type of inflammation or fibrosis if the tag was stuck in my baby would not be a risk for cancer ?
What did you mean this is not what Dr Ravoof implied may I ask ?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Yes it is safe to say that any inflammation or fibrosis that develops because of a retained foreign body would not be a risk for cancer.
I saw that Dr. Ravoof supplied you with this reference and read the post when it was provided. I also saw that Dr. Phil told you that he disagreed with Dr. Ravoof and was certain that there is no cancer risk.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes he did but it's so scary when it's your baby your talking about and if someone says there is a risk it's really frightening . Would you say considering my incident is there any risk for these processes to occur . Ie the inflammation or fibrosis ?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
I understand that you are scared, but you will have sufficient reason to drive yourself crazy worrying about issues for which there is evidence of risk without also worrying about issues for which there is no evidence of risk.
I have already told you that there is no risk if there are no symptoms.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Yes but I just don't understand when you say there may not be symptoms present ? That's what's confused and worried me ?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
I explained that above.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can I ask you doctor just for a second opinion as this is really difficult . Would you agree with this summary from doctor Ravoof ?
I do thank you for your time and patience .
"First of all you are not sure that anything was swallowed or not. So if not swallowed no reason to worry. Next even if swallowed it will pass through the tract without any adverse complications. So no need to worry. Even in the unlikely event it gets stuck, this will cause symptoms which will lead to treatment and removal preventing any chronic inflammation. So no need to worry. In conclusion what I am saying is that there is no reason for worry about the theoretical possibility of cancer which is very unlikely. Please relax."
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
I agree that there is no reason for concern and that you should relax, but I do not agree that there is any situation associated with this incident for which there is a reason to be concerned about cancer.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you that is comforting to know . I especially wanted to know if you would agree with this particular bit ;
Even in the unlikely event it gets stuck, this will cause symptoms which will lead to treatment and removal preventing any chronic inflammation
Many thanks again for looking at it for me .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
You are welcome.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Are you able to give me your opinion on above .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
I discussed that above.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can you not clarify for me as I don't know if this is accurate to
Think that chronic inflammation would be prevented by symptoms ?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Or at least I mean there being symptons to know to get treatment .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
I have already told you that minor inflammation does not always cause symptoms, but if there is a retained foreign body that is causing minor inflammation or fibrosis, but is not causing symptoms, it is not a problem.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
But what I was thinking was without any symptoms how do people know to go for these screening tests ?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
What screening tests?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When you said in previous text that people go for screening test which picks up things they never knew were there . I was thinking they must have symptoms to go for this in the first place .
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm just trying to assertain whether or not if this object Got stuck she would eventually have symptoms and we would know to get her checked out .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
By definition, screening tests are done for someone that is having no symptoms, but is done solely because of the age and gender and possibly specific risk factors. For example, a screening colonoscopy is done for someone after age 50. So the person will know to go for screening tests during a regular check-up with their doctor.
As I have said many times now, if she is not having symptoms, then she does not need to be checked.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No but what I meant was would minor inflammation eventually lead to chronic inflammation where there are symptoms too look out for ?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
What did I tell you above?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That minor chronic inflammation would have no symptoms I think ? Does it eventually develop though to let the body know something is not right
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Not necessarily, but if it never causes symptoms, it is never a problem.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok then thank you .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
You are very welcome.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi doctor love .
Sorry to contact again but I was just reading back over things as in the night I was having to read quickly due to feeding and settling my baby .
I read this again which you sent me ; However, if the tag were to get caught or embedded on the way down while being swallowed, then yes, there would typically be symptoms that would indicate that there are problems, either because of gagging, vomiting, or coughing. And the coughing would be more significant than a little coughing that did not appear concerning at the time.As long as she is not having symptoms, then there is no reason for you to be concerned about whether she has swallowed one of these tags.
I'm just trying to understand this business about there being or not being symptoms . By reading this again am I right to think there would symptoms somewhere along the way to alert me if the tag did not pass successfully .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
This applies to the process of being swallowed, and yes, there would be symptoms if the tag were to get caught on the way down while being swallowed, but this is not the same as whether it passes through the gut after it has been swallowed.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
So you mean there might not be symptoms if it got stuck in the gut after being swallowed ?
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
I addressed that above.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
So I think your saying with the process of inflammation and fibrosis there wouldn't be symptoms ? As I said the o my thing she did was cough a few times and urge then there was nothing more . Can we be certain these tags will pass easily? It's just the ends are so hard and sharp .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
We are going in circles. You obviously do not want to believe that this is nothing to worry about, so repeating the same information is not going to convince you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well I was just trying to clarify really as I got confused with when you said at first there would be symptoms and then later there wouldn't . Are you able to just answer my question above as that's what's niggling me still .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
I just answered that. The statement that you quoted addressed the swallowing of the tag, not the passing of the tag.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
But would I of been able to tell easily if she had swallowed it with say unrelenting coughing rather than the small cough and urge that she did ?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Would this of continued I mean rather than being a one off cough
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
What did I tell you in my first answer?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm just asking if you can clarify for me again as a summary as I'm trying to read all this but it's hard . You don't have to be so rude to me I'm only scared and worried I may of harmed my child that's why I've come to you guys for advice not to be criticised .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
I am not being rude. I am asking you to read what I have already spent hours typing.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well I just feel your being very vague and unhelpful .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
Which answer is vague?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well like when you say things like "what did I say above " it doesn't help me really as there's so much above and I realise I've asked a lot but when you have another doctor from oncology telling you there is a cancer risk for your child this is quite scary to hear .
Expert:  Dr. D. Love replied 1 year ago.
That is not being vague. That is asking you to read what I have already spent hours typing. I have also noted the fallacy in the Oncology doctors comments and that another expert has also said that he disagrees with that doctor.
However, you would obviously prefer to believe that doctor, so I will opt out.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok I understand you think I'm being difficult . I'm not I'm just concerned about the long term affects for her . What I was trying to get at was and I know you don't think it could happen but if say this incident did turn her cells abnormal would I know by symptoms to do something about it before it turns to cancer ? I think that's what I was trying to say last night but I was so tired and worried I couldn't get my point across .