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Foreign body ingestion: understanding the implications
  1. Max Henderson1,2,
  2. Simon M Everett3
  1. 1 Leeds Institute of Health Science, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  2. 2 Liaison Psychiatry, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Leeds, UK
  3. 3 Gastroenterology, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Simon M Everett, Gastroenterology, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds LS9 7TF, UK; simon.everett{at}

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Foreign body ingestion is a challenging clinical presentation familiar to most gastroenterologists. In this edition of Frontline, Yadollahi et al report on a large series of such patients in their tertiary referral centre in Southampton.1 The authors describe an increasing incidence of foreign body ingestions over a 5-year period, discuss the outcomes of endoscopic management and relate the anticipated burden of this increasing presentation on staff and resources in their hospital.

This is a welcome and detailed addition to the small body of literature on the subject. The episodes of foreign body ingestion described by the authors of this article (who are all clinical gastroenterologists) are acts of self-harm. Terms such as ‘parasuicide’ and ‘deliberate self-harm’ have been superseded by this now preferred term. Foreign body ingestion is a small subset of such behaviours—the most common being overdose and cutting. Young people who self-harm have a substantially increased risk of adverse non-fatal and fatal outcomes, including suicide, compared with those who do not, yet most episodes of self-harm never result in a medical presentation. In a survey of adults from England aged 16–74 years, the prevalence of self-reported lifetime non-suicidal self-harm increased from 2.4% in 2000 to 6.4% in 2014, most notably in females aged 16–24 years, in whom prevalence increased to 19.7% in 2014.2 The reasons behind this remain unclear.

Self-harm is a complex behaviour and represents the final common pathway of a number of upstream risk factors. It can be a presentation of …

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  • Contributors Both authors contributed equally to this article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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