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  • Writer's pictureDr. Steven Horwitz

Poisoning and Children

You find your child on the floor with a bottle of bleach, an open bottle of medication, chewing on a leaf of a plant. What do you do?

"Pediatric poisoning is a common emergency worldwide." (1)

"Our study showed that the two categories of patients at greatest risk for acute poisoning are children under 3 years and adolescents over 12 years." (6)

Where does the poisoning occur? (1)

  • At home

Is the poisoning intentional or unintentional? (1,3)

  • Unintentional (children)

  • Intentional (adolescents) associated with high hospital admission rates.

When does the poisoning occur? (1)

  • Most commonly 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.

What is the most common cause of poisoning? (1) (5)

  • Pharmaceutical drugs, "In most pediatric poisonings, the substances are non- or minimally toxic, but occasionally some are severely toxic, requiring immediate and specific medical intervention to prevent severe harm or death." (1) Over age 12 (6).

  • Cosmetics/Personal Care products, Cleaning Products, Analgesics (pain relief medication, toys, vitamin/supplements (5)

  • Household products under age 2. (6)

What are the top ten products causing unintentional poisoning? (2)

Where are children finding medications? (2)

  • 27% on the ground or misplaced

  • 20% purse, handbag, wallet

  • 20% counter, dresser, table, nightstand

  • 15% pill box, bag of pills

  • 12% other/unknown

What Are the Symptoms of Accidental Childhood Poisoning? (4)

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Drowsiness.

  • Falling over.

  • Abdominal pain.

  • Sore throat.

  • Irritability.

  • Trouble breathing.

  • Unusual drooling.

  • Burns are present on the skin.

  • Blisters present on lip and mouth.

  • Strange odor coming from breath.

  • Unconsciousness.

  • Seizures.

How Can Accidental Childhood Poisoning Be Prevented? (4)

Parents should be very intelligent and aware of the environment of their children. The house should be poison-proof. Following are the preventive measures parents should follow.

  • Dispose of all the poisonous material properly from the house. For example, parents should store medicines in a locked cabinet.

  • All household chemicals which contain poisonous ingredients should be locked away from the child's reach.

  • Parents should avoid taking medicines in front of their children.

  • There should be safety latches present in the cabinet.

  • Poisonous products should never be placed or stored in containers.

  • Parents should always give the medicine to their child according to the prescribed dose and always check the expiry date of medicines.


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