Kids are getting drunk on hand sanitizer
In four years, poison control centers across the country have seen a 400 percent increase in cases of children under 12 years old consuming hand sanitizer, according to an analysis by the Georgia Poison Center. The number reported spiked to 16,117 in 2014 compared to just 3,266 in 2010.
Due to its high concentration of alcohol, which can range from 45 to 95 percent, even a few squirts can cause alcohol poisoning, said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center.
“I would recommend to parents that they start treating alcohol-based hand sanitizers just like they do other prescriptions and over-the -counter medications that can be harmful,” says Dr. Stephen Crouch, emergency medicine physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “Keep them out of reach of small children or in locked cabinets to prevent inadvertent access.”
In a letter to school districts in Georgia, Dr. Lopez noted that some children are choosing to consume hand sanitizer because it looks like it would taste good, while others are using the substance to intentionally get drunk.
“For older children who are ingesting the hand sanitizer intentionally, it may be a good time to sit down and educate them on the effects of ingesting alcohol and the potential short-term and long-term effects,” says Dr. Crouch. “Parents may also need to talk to them about why they are doing this. This could be because of peer pressure, depressions or addictive personality.”
If a child ingests hand sanitizer, Dr. Crouch says parents should immediately call their local poison control center, as well as the child’s primary care provider and monitor him or her closely.
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