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Your Child

Hand Sanitizers Poisoning Young Children

2:00

Poison control centers across America have been seeing an increase in calls about children who are getting very sick from drinking hand sanitizers. Poison control officials are warning parents and school officials about this dangerous trend involving small children, basically getting drunk, on hand sanitizer.

“A doctor called us about a week and a half ago about two cases he saw the same day at the ER,” says Gaylord Lopez, PharmD, director of the Georgia Poison Center. “It was a 5- and a 6-year-old.”

The first patient, a 6-year-old girl, was picked up after school stumbling and slurring her words. She’d also fallen and hit her head. Her mother drove her straight to the ER, where doctors found out she’d eaten two to three squirts of strawberry-scented hand sanitizer from a big container sitting on her teacher’s desk.

Her blood alcohol level was 1.79, almost twice what would be considered the legal limit in an adult.

The second case was a 5-year-old boy, who came in with a blood alcohol level of 2.0. The culprit was hand sanitizer.

Lopez checked the national data and saw these cases were part of an unrecognized trend. In 2010, U.S. poison centers got more than 3,600 calls about kids under age 12 eating hand sanitizers. By 2013, that number had swelled to more than 16,000 calls.

“That’s a 400 percent increase,” Lopez says. “I was surprised more than anyone.”

Many of the hand sanitizer bottles come in bright colors and the sanitizer itself smells like bubble gum and other tasty treats such as lemonade and vanilla. All aromas a child might mistake for the real thing.

The big problem with these products are that they can be anywhere from 40 to 95 percent alcohol.

Drinking even just little bit can make kids intoxicated. It’s like drinking a shot or two of hard liquor.

“You and I don’t have any problem sending our kids with hand sanitizer in their backpacks. But what if I told you that was twice as potent as vodka. That’s like a parent sending a bottle of whiskey or rum to school,” Lopez says.

Alcohol poisoning can cause a child’s heart rate, blood pressure and breathing to slow. They may stagger, seem sleepy and vomit. Their blood sugar can drop rapidly leading to seizures and coma.

Lopez says hand sanitizers are often included in the list of school supplies parents should send to school. He says many adults he’s talked to don’t realize that hand sanitizers contain so much alcohol, or they don’t realize that it’s the kind of alcohol that can cause intoxication.

“I wanted to get the word out. Parents should be aware. Teachers should be aware.”

If you have hand sanitizer at home, keep it out of the reach of young children. If you send hand sanitizer with your child to school- especially during the flu and cold season- use the wipes instead.

You can learn more about hand sanitizer poisoning by calling the American Association of Poison Control Center for free advice at 1-800-222-1222.

If you suspect your child may have ingested sanitizer and is showing any of the above symptoms, take your child to the hospital immediately.

Source: Brenda Goodman, MA, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20150915/hand-sanitizers-poisoning-kids

Your Teen

Hand Sanitizer Hangover?

1.45 to read

From the “Really?” file, another way for kids to get high and sick has emerged. This one is not a national trend … yet. And because it requires drinking something that you might normally spread on your hands after going into a public restroom, maybe it won’t catch on.

But, forewarned is forearmed. And with the Internet able to spread “challenges” at the speed of light it’s probably a good idea that parents are aware of this one.

Some teens are drinking hand-sanitizer to get high. Not surprisingly they are ending up in the emergency room incredibly drunk and sick.

Recently, six teens from the Los Angeles area were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after downing the germ killing agent.  

The Los Angeles Times reported some of the teenagers used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer using instructions found online. If a liquid hand sanitizer contains 62 percent ethyl alcohol, that means a "drink" can be as high as 120 proof, whereas a shot of hard liquor such as whiskey or vodka is typically 80 proof.

"All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager," Dr. Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times. "There is no question that it is dangerous."

The teens showed symptoms of slurred speech and a burning sensation in the stomach. Some of them were so drunk they had to be monitored in the emergency room.

Los Angeles emergency rooms had not reported any other cases before this sudden spurt of ER visits. The teens did not come in all together but as separate incidents. 

It’s not only Los Angeles that has seen this situation pop up in its emergency rooms. Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said he has taken care of some teens who had ingested hand sanitizers at school as a "dare," only to come to the ER drunk with dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

"They denied drinking any 'alcohol', had no smell of alcohol on their breath, but when their blood alcohol was quite elevated, they later admitted to drinking the hand sanitizer," Glatter told HealthPop.

Doctors told the L.A. Times that parents should purchase foam hand sanitizers since they're harder to extract alcohol from compared with gel-based products, and they should monitor hand sanitizer bottles around the house as if they are liquor or medicine bottles.

"Over the years, they have ingested all sorts of things," Helen Arbogast, injury prevention coordinator in the trauma program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told the Times. "Cough syrup had reached a very sexy point where young people were using it.... We want to be sure this doesn't take on the same trend."

Apparently there is no limit to what some teens will do to get a buzz on, hopefully this venture will end quickly. The yuck factor alone should help.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57420106-10391704/drinking-hand-s...

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