Each year nearly 1.1 million children under 6 years of age have contact with or swallow a poisonous substance. Children in this age group are still exploring their new and curious world. One way they do their exploring is by putting interesting and unknown objects into their mouths. There are more nerve endings per square inch in the mouth than any other part of the body, making it easier for them to identify and remember an object.
Thankfully, most children don't suffer permanent harm if they are treated immediately. This is a very scary thing for parents and it can happen in the blink of an eye. The majority of accidental poisonings happen in the home. You are probably aware of the importance of keeping harmful chemicals and medications locked away and out of the reach of children. Other things you may not be aware of are plants, cosmetics, shampoo, perfume, herbal remedies, and cigarettes.
We do our best to keep unsafe products out of the reach of our kids, but sometimes accidents happen. Just like most emergencies, it is important to remain calm and act quickly.
Know The Signs
- Unexplained stains on clothing.
- Unusual drooling or vomiting.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Abdominal cramps without a fever.
- Sleepiness, irritability, or unusual jumpiness.
- Burns on lips or mouth or rashes on the skin.
- Convulsions or unconsciousness.
What To Do
- Grab any substance away from your child.
- Have them spit out anything left in their mouth and save it if possible so that it can be tested if you are not sure what it is.
- If your child is unconscious or convulsing call 911 immediately.
- Otherwise call the National Poison Hotline at 1-800-222-1222. The American Association of Poison Control Centers runs the hotline that is staffed 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
- Listen careful to their instructions and answer all question to the best of your ability.
Do not try to make your child vomit as this can cause more damage when the substance flows back up through the throat. The American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends keeping syrup of ipecac in the home and says it can cause more problems than it solves.
Follow these guidelines and try not to panic. Post the Poison Hotline number on your fridge or program it into your phone. You'll get the help you need and your child will no doubt be fine.
This article is for informational purposes only. You should contact your doctor with specific concerns or changes to your or your child's health.