'It's not worth the enormous risk': Baby dies after choking on a balloon

Nine-month-old Justin Chamberlain died after a balloon blocked his windpipe.
Nine-month-old Justin Chamberlain died after a balloon blocked his windpipe. Photo: GoFundMe/ BabyJustin'sFuneral

A bereaved mother has urged parents to be wary of having balloons in the house and to learn CPR after her nine-month-old son died from asphyxiation after swallowing an uninflated balloon.

US mum Katie Chamberlain, of Indianapolis, took to Facebook to describe the tragic events of May 31 that resulted in her baby son Justin losing his life, choking on a balloon his older brothers had left lying on the floor.

She explained the morning "...started no different than any other day. I fed baby Justin, changed him, and then set him on the living room floor to play. I noticed a balloon on the floor, which was quickly thrown away. I failed to notice another balloon."

Baby Justin
Baby Justin Photo: Katie Chamberlain/Facebook

Katie only took her eyes off her baby for a short moment, but in that time he had located the balloon and placed it in his mouth.

She recounted, "My nine month old while playing, found the balloon and as all babies do stuck the new object in his mouth. I didn't see him put it in his mouth but I looked at him and saw he was gagging so I went to him in a hurry, hoping to retrieve whatever it was but it was too late."

She said that as Justin gagged, it forced the balloon into his tiny windpipe, blocking it and causing asphyxiation.

While Katie administered CPR, she could not dislodge the balloon.

To make matters worse, Katie was placed on hold on the emergency services line and paramedics arrived too late. Even after the balloon had been removed from his airway, Justin could not be revived and he went into cardiac arrest. 

He was transferred to hospital where medics worked on him for another 30 minutes, but he tragically passed away.

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Katie warned other parents of the dangers of having balloons around saying, "All because of a stupid balloon. It's not worth the enormous risk for a few minutes of fun. It's not worth the horrible guilt that you will feel if something happens to your child. Now all we have left are memories, pictures, and a few of his belongings. There is no pain greater than that of a grieving parent."

A study names latex balloons as the most likely cause of childhood fatality by choking, "...accounting for 29 per cent of deaths," with hot dogs named as the most dangerous food.

Another study supports this, identifying balloons as, "...the leading cause of pediatric choking deaths from children's products."

Read Katie's full post below and assess the danger in your own homes.

There is also a GoFundMe page to help the family with costs for Justin's funeral.