Parents warn about the dangers of 'the choking game' - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Parents warn about the dangers of 'the choking game'

MILWAUKEE - WISN's Christina Palladino sat down with five families with one emotional bond; they all lost children to a very preventable danger.

The families spoke to WISN about their sons who died because of a trend known as "the choking game."

The game involves cutting off oxygen and blood flow to the brain with a towel, belt or rope. The person hyperventilates until they pass out. When blood and oxygen rush back to the brain, it can create a euphoric high.

The practice can lead to brain damage, seizures, head trauma and in the case of the five families Palladino spoke with, premature death.

Researchers in Oregon found that 6.1% of eighth graders had played the game at least once in their lives. Among those who had played, 64% had done it more than once.

Some children who engage in the behavior might be overlooked because of myths surrounding it, said researcher Robert Nystrom. His 2009 Oregon study, published online in the journal Pediatrics, found that boys and girls almost equally participated in the game.

In 2008, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counted 82 deaths due to the choking game from 1995 to 2007 but WISN learned that numbers may be misleading as deaths from the choking game could be classified as suicide instead of accidental.

A 2010 article published in Pediatrics said of 865 pediatricians and family practitioners surveyed, 1/3 were unaware of the choking game.

Read WISN's full report here: On Assignment: Parents warn of dangerous, fatal game

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