Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Terrible Two Tuesday: Toddler issue - Poisonings

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It's National Poison Prevention Week!  March 14-20th.

  • In 2005, there were 32,691 poisoning deaths in the United States (CDC, 2008)
  • Unintentional poisoning death rates have been steadily rising since 1992
  • In 2006, unintentional poisoning caused over 700,000 ER visits
  • In 2008, 34 of the 1315 deaths caused by accidental poisoning were in children less than 6 years of age (AAPCC'S 2008 Annual Report).  That is nearly 2 children a month - all preventable!
  • More than 80% of household poisonings are in children aged 1-4
** The AAPCC is the American Association of Poison Control Centers.  See them HERE 
Here are the top 5 most common poisons in kids under 5, from the AAPCC report.
  1. Cosmetics/personal care products (such as perfume and nail polish)
  2. Analgesics (to treat pain - like tylenol and ibuprofen)
  3. Household cleaning products
  4. Foreign bodies/toys/miscellaneous
  5. Topical preparations 
  6. Cold & cough preparations
  7. Vitamins
  8. Antihistamines (allergy medicine - examples:  Benadryl, claritin, zyrtec, etc)
  9. Pesticides (example:   Round-Up)
  10. Plants 
DID YOU KNOW?.....just a few interesting facts!
  •  Nail polish can cause poisoning via drinking it or inhaling it.  It can contain up to 4 (or more) poisonous ingredients, including Toluene.  Toluene has a distinctive smell.  It occurs naturally in crude oil and the tolu tree.  It also created as a byproduct of fuel processing from crude oil.  Toluene affects the nervous system, in high concentrations can cause stupor, dizziness, coma.
  • The strong smell in the cleaners isle at your local store is due to "outgassing."  Outgassing is the vapors escaping from sealed containers on the shelves.  
  • Ammonia & bleach - the cleaners of our parents, are 2 of the most toxic household substances.
  • Formaldehyde is often present in household cleaners but may not be listed as an individual ingredient, it is often part of other ingredients.  If you can't pronounce it, don't use it!
  • A tube of children's toothpaste contains enough fluoride to kill a child up to age 9!  See this chart.
  • Ingestion of hand sanitizer - even by licking their hands, can cause alcohol poisoning in a small child!  See the Bad, Ugly, and Dangerous side of hand sanitizer HERE.
Each week I see parents bring in small kids with various accidental ingestions.  Last week, it was a bleach ingestion.  Everything turned out OK, but how scary!  bleach is very will burn any part of the mouth or mucosa it comes into contact with.  We also see kids that have gotten into Grandma's purse and taken medication.  Kids love to imitate the adults around them - if they see you take medication from a bottle, they will be curious about that.

HERE is a great article on household cleaners, alternative natural cleaners, and a heartbreaking story of twins that got into some heart medication.

Hopefully, I've convinced you that poisonings are a very real and dangerous threat in your home.  The steps to keep your toddlers safe are simple:
  • Put all cleaners on a high shelf in a supervised area
  • Lock up your medications, and/or place on a high shelf in a supervised area.  This includes vitamins, calcium, herbal supplements,  and fluoride.
  • Don't let your kids eat toothpaste, and use small amounts!  Keep any fluoride supplements out of reach!
  • Talk to the people that care for your child!  Know where your babysitter keeps their cleaning products, do they know how and when to contact poison control?  
  • Remind grandparents to keep their purses out of reach!
  • Be weary of the message you send your kids when administering medications or vitamins.  I know, firsthand, how difficult it can be to get your child to take needed medication.  However, when we reinforce how good it tastes - esp for vitamins, fluoride, ibuprofen, tylenol, etc, we also need to temper the message with "this is medication, you take it only when mommy or daddy gives it to you.  You don't ever take it by yourself."......I say this to my kids over and over.  When they are old enough, I explain more about what a medication is , and make them repeat back to me that they will never take it on their own.  I'm concerned there may be some new risks out there with several pharmacies offering the free flavorings added to medicine.  At home education is a must!  I repeat this to them when they see me take any medication - "this is mommy's medicine, it is not for _______.  Do not ever touch it."
  • Be aware of the plants and weeds are around your home.  Look them up and identify them.  Many common landscaping plants are dangerous poisons.  Examples:  FoxgloveAzaleas, Bleeding hearts, DaffodilsHollyJimson Weed.
For poisoning prevention FAQ's, see HERE.

Remember to post the phone number for your local poison control center - you never know when you might need it!

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