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Daily Dose

National Poison Prevention Week

1:30 to read

It is National Poison Prevention Week and it seem appropriate since I just received a call last week from an anxious mother whose toddler had gotten into some medication at their house. The child was fine but I reminded her that more than 2 million people each year, about half under the age of 6, ingest or come into contact with a poisonous substance.  The majority of these incidents occur when parents or babysitters are present but are not paying attention at the time. As I remind parents, it is IMPOSSIBLE to watch your child, even with just one child, all of the time. So…it is necessary to take steps to try to prevent accidental poisonings.

 

The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products, liquid nicotine, pesticides, gasoline and kerosene. I am always surprised to hear that a child will drink gasoline (YUCK right?) but toddlers do crazy things and put EVERYTHING in their mouths.

 

When “child-proofing” the house against so many dangers, try to keep as many poisonous products outs of a child’s reach and view as possible.  Install safety latches on all cabinets that may contain any hazardous products …including laundry products and cleaning products. I would advise against using any detergent “pods” with children under the age of 6 and use powder or liquid instead.  A safer product is worth a little bit of hassle!

 

Make sure that ALL medications, even vitamins are in containers with child safety caps (adults can’t open them but kids seem to?), but you must also keep them out of reach of children and I would recommend a cabinet that you can lock.  There have been several occasions when a parent has left a pill out on a counter for another child to take and then suddenly the toddler has chewed it up…this has been most common with stimulant medications.  Grandparents who are visiting also forget and leave their medications out and kids seem to find these as well.

 

Another common potential poison comes in the form of a button cell battery. These are common in remote controls, key fobs, greeting cards and even musical children’s books and not only pose a choking hazard but may cause tissue damage. If your child ingests a battery it is imperative that you seek immediate treatment at an emergency room.

 

If you are ever in doubt about the potential for poisoning call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222. They are experts in walking you through potential side effects, treatments and need for an ER visit!  One of my patients just asked me if there is a limit to how many times you can call Poison Control…she seems to be a frequent flyer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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