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Many Doctors Unaware of Deadly 'Choking Game'
Date:12/14/2009

change in behavior; unusual demands for privacy, such as locked bedroom doors; and wear marks on furniture, such as bunk beds or closet rods.

A report released earlier this year from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that, between 1995 and 2007, at least 82 youths died from playing the "choking game."

Prevalence data indicate that 11 to 20 percent of teenagers have played the game, said McClave.

"That's high and more prevalent than many physicians realize," she said.

"The concern I have is that . . . this is much more prevalent and the death numbers are even higher than we in the medical profession know," Bass added.

This may be confounded by the fact that many casualties from the "game" may be erroneously attributed to suicide or unintentional choking.

This survey of 163 pediatricians and family doctors revealed that more than 68 percent had heard of the choking game, the majority of those (61.3 percent) through popular news sources, indicating they had only a superficial knowledge of the phenomenon.

General practitioners were more likely to know of the game than pediatricians.

Not many doctors said they had actually seen a patient who had played the game although, the authors stated, this doesn't match up with prevalence data, suggesting that at least some physicians are missing cases.

Some experts questioned whether the doctor's office was actually the right place to make a dent in choking game statistics.

"The odds of an appointment being scheduled with a physician when the adolescent has physical evidence is not likely (unless the parent notices something is up and brings the adolescent in to be checked out)," said Dr. Karen Sheehan, medical director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "I think physicians need to screen for it by asking the adolescent as they would any oth
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