Boy gets pneumonia after inhaling popcorn; mom shares warning for parents

PARKER, Colo. – A Colorado couple’s Facebook post is getting international attention after their son inhaled pieces of popcorn he was eating and developed a dangerous lung infection.

Nicole and Jake Goddard have three children. Every weekend they like to pop a big bowl of popcorn, sit down on the couch and watch a movie as a family. They say their recent viewing of “Mrs. Doubtfire” quickly turned into a horror flick when their 2 1/2-year-old son, Nash, started choking.

“He started making a gagging noise and [Jake] jumped up really fast to grab him and he was getting ready to do the Heimlich on him and then [Nash] took a breath,” Nicole told KDVR.

She says Nash began breathing normally. The couple didn’t see any popcorn come out, so they assumed he just swallowed it.

Over the next few hours, Nash developed a cough. Nicole says she attributed it to cold and flu season, which had already hit their family. By Monday evening, the little boy had a 104-degree temperature.

“I was watching his stomach and he was breathing really hard -- like labored breathing -- and I’m like, 'That’s it, I’m taking him in,'" the mother said.

After some tests, Nash was admitted to the hospital and ordered into surgery.

“There was so much inflammation he actually started to develop pneumonia in his left lung,” Nicole said.

Doctors also discovered the toddler had inhaled chunks of popcorn that were stuck in his lung and causing the pneumonia.

“The gave us the pieces of popcorn that they pulled out of his lungs. There were six,” she said.

Nicole and Jake say they had no idea that children under the age of 5 aren’t strong enough to cough up bits of food like popcorn and pretzels.

“Never. Or I would have never given him popcorn,” Nicole said. “I’ve given [all of my kids] popcorn.”

She figured most other parents give their children popcorn too, so she wanted to post a few pictures of Nash in the hospital and explain what he had gone through as a way to educate others.

The post has since been shared more than 127,000 times on Facebook.

“They’re as shocked as I was,” she said.

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