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Fabric Masks Post Suffocation, Choking Hazard To Toddlers And Infants, Health Experts Warn

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - With cities and counties mandating the use of masks, more people are turning to fabric masks, which they can make themselves or order online. Unfortunately, the masks can pose a choking hazard for toddlers and infants, UC Davis pediatricians warn.

"Masks may present a choking hazard for young children. Also, depending on the mask and the fit, the child may have trouble breathing. If this happens, they need to be able to take it off," said UC Davis pediatrician Lena van der List. "Children less than 2 years of age will not reliably be able to remove a face mask and could suffocate. Therefore, masks should not routinely be used for young children."

Elastic material and strings that go around the head can pose a strangulation hazard for children, the UC Davis Health News Office said in a statement Thursday.

Due to these risks, the CDC does not recommend children under age two wear these types of masks. In addition, those with trouble breathing or who can't remove the mask without assistance, should not wear a mask, according to the CDC.

"The younger the child, the more likely they will be to not wear the mask properly, reach under the mask and touch potentially contaminated masks," said Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Children's Hospital. "Of course, this depends on the developmental level of the individual child. But I think masks are not likely to provide much potential benefit over risk until the teen years."

Sacramento County health officials are wearing masks in public and urge residents to do the same, but have not mandated the practice.

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