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Health expert warns about accidental poisoning in children

A local health expert has a warning for parents and caregivers of young children.

Each month the Indiana Poison Center at IU Health receives about 2,400 calls about accidental poisoning, that averages to about 80 calls per day.

Blake Froberg is a pediatrician and toxicologist at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. He said parents could cause danger to their children by having toxic chemicals within their reach.

“Keep products that are known to be toxic or known to be harmful either in a locked cabinet or it’s very hard I realize, everybody has a lot of things in their house, at a very minimum, at a very high shelf area,” Froberg said.

Everyday use items could easily be mistaken for something edible to the young eye.

A container of Comet cleaner could be mistaken for Parmesan cheese, which in turn could lead to burns in the esophagus and stomach if children get into that. Mouthwash could look like a sports drink to a young child. That could cause sleepiness or intoxication due to the alcohol in mouthwash.

“I would never put a product in a different container so don’t switch your antifreeze or tiki torch fluid into a Gatorade bottle that’s empty. That creates even more confusion for a child,” Froberg added.

Lamp oil fluid commonly used in tiki torches could appear to be apple juice. Ingesting that could cause aspiration pneumonia and a child could end up in the hospital or intensive care.

“Kids, especially kids younger than six years of age, can’t distinguish the two, especially if they’re in an unmarked bottle or even if they’re in a marked bottle, with a child that can’t read, they can get into that,” he said.

Lock boxes for chemicals can be bought inside Riley Hospital’s Safety Store or at other big-box stores. 

If a parent or caregiver suspects their child has ingested something harmful, they should call the poison center immediately at 800-222-1222. The center is open 24/5. 365 days a year.

If the symptoms are not severe, often times the issue can be resolved over the phone without a visit to the hospital.

More information on accidental poisoning prevention can be found here