Those who live with or work with young children are discussing a disturbing new trend of hand sanitizer consumption. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report demonstrates that in many cases children are intentionally consuming hand sanitizers. In fact, 95% of the 70,669 hand sanitizer exposure cases reported to poison control centers between 2011 and 2014 were due to intentional ingestion of these products.
This report also revealed that "young children, including infants, are more likely to develop complications from alcohol intoxication than are older children and teens," and that the majority of the exposures were reported during the school year. It is thought that this pattern may be associated with a greater accessibility of sanitizer in schools and during the flu season.
While hand sanitizers are effective in reducing microorganisms on the skin, and protecting us from illness, the improper use can be associated with adolescent health risks such as vomiting, oral irritation and hypoglycemia. An increased awareness of the potential dangers of alcohol hand sanitizer consumption, greater emphasis on proper usage, and strategic placement and availability, are ways to combat this frightening trend.
Here are some of our suggestions for reducing the misuse of hand sanitizer:
If you see any child, exhibit clinical signs and symptoms consistent with alcohol toxicity, such as nausea, vomiting, respiratory depression, and drowsiness, consider the possibility of an alcohol hand sanitizer ingestion, seek medical attention, and contact your local poison control center.
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