Children’s Hospital Los Angeles toxicologist stresses how laundry
pods, e-cigarettes, energy drinks and prescription drugs can all look
harmless, even inviting, to curious kids
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to poison centers
across the United States, according to the American Association of
Poison Control Centers. Half of those calls involve children under 6
As part of National Poison Prevention Week, March 19-25, Children’s
Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) pediatric medical toxicologist Cyrus
Rangan, M.D., assistant medical director of the California Poison
Control System, is stressing poison prevention in homes, where 80
percent of poison control calls originate. Dr. Rangan says CHLA alone
treated almost 100 cases of poison exposure in 2016, mostly related to
kids ingesting household items or unsecured medications. Different
poisons can trigger numerous severe reactions, from trouble breathing to
accelerated heart rate to blocked intestines and even affected mental
Dr. Rangan tells parents and guardians to keep these tips in mind:
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CHILDPROOF.
More than 60,000
U.S. children end up in emergency rooms each year after swallowing
medication left within reach. Dr. Rangan says kids will break into
tamper-resistant bottles given enough time, so parents should keep
meds high and locked away “out of sight, out of reach, out of mind.”
He also recommends not transferring pills to other containers,
such as flip-top canisters labeled with days of the week. This makes
it harder to identify what a child accidentally swallowed and how to
DON’T CALL IT CANDY.
Like sweets, pills and vitamins are
colorful and sometimes sugarcoated (or even in “gummy” form). Dr.
Rangan says it’s risky and confusing to trick kids into taking their
medicine by pretending it’s candy. “Medicine is medicine, candy is
candy,” he says. “Make sure we keep them separate not only in our
homes but also in our minds.”
NEW PRODUCTS, NEW POISONS.
In the last few years, products
like laundry/dishwasher detergent pods; e-cigarettes (and their
cartridges); and energy drinks have all become popular. All contain
highly concentrated chemicals – detergent, nicotine, caffeine – and
are often scented or flavored. These are especially dangerous for
younger kids. “We’ve seen very, very young children who swallow some
of these and end up in the intensive care unit, have a change in their
mental status and wind up on respirators,” says Dr. Rangan.
TO KIDS, BLEACH LOOKS LIKE WATER, CLEANING POWDERS LOOKS LIKE
“You may have a bottle that has a brownish
liquid in it,” says Dr. Rangan. “If it’s in your refrigerator, it’s
very likely to be apple juice. But if it’s in your garage, it’s likely
to be a cleaner. Because they look the same and are sometimes in
bottles that are very, very similar, a young child tends not be able
to tell the difference.”
1-800-222-1222. EXPERTS ARE STANDING BY.
Despite your best
efforts, a child may still come in contact with a toxic substance. Dr.
Rangan says to call 911 if the child stops breathing or responding.
Otherwise, the national 24-hour Poison Control Hotline,
1-800-222-1222, will connect you to certified specialists at your
regional poison control center. Many are nurses and pharmacists,
backed up by medical toxicologists like Dr. Rangan, who can help you
determine whether to stay home or go to the ER.
The good news is doctors say treatments have come a long way in a few
decades for patients who are poisoned. While that has led to an overall
drop in poison-related deaths, accidental overdoses in children are
still rising. That’s why experts continue to underscore prevention and
supervision as the best line of defense.
“We don’t like treating children with poisonings. We like preventing
them from getting them in the first place,” Dr. Rangan says. “And as we
get into spring and summer months, and children are spending more time
at home… despite how much supervision we give them, children still are
very capable at finding substances and possibly causing a poisoning
About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s
hospital in California and among the top 10 in the nation for clinical
excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. News & World
Report Honor Roll. Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban Research
Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research
facilities in the United States. Children’s Hospital is also one of
America’s premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation with the
Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since
1932. For more information, visit CHLA.org.
Follow us on Twitter,
or visit the institution’s child health blog (www.WeTreatKidsBetter.org)
or its research blog (www.ResearCHLABlog.org).
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Owen Lei, 323-361-8433