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Children's Health

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Fewer Kids Injured by Cleaning Products

Child-Resistant Packaging, Poison Control Hotline Helped Reduce Injuries

Pine Cleaners, Oil Polishes Cause Lung Injuries

As associate medical director of the Central Ohio Poison Center, Jalliff routinely sees cleaning product injuries firsthand.

He says 80% to 90% of calls to the poison control hotline involving young children do not require a trip to the ER, and many of those that do are not serious injuries.

The most serious injuries often involve oil-based products like pine and citrus oil cleaners and liquid furniture polishes that contain hydrocarbons, he says.

Children rarely drink these products, but if they get them into their mouths they often choke and breathe them into their lungs.

These injuries often cause a chemical pneumonia that can result in major lung damage or death, he says.

Brittany Oliver’s now 3-year-old daughter Alexus was one of the lucky ones.

When she was 1 1/2 years old, Alexus apparently swallowed some pine cleaner left out when Brittany and her mother were cleaning the family’s house in preparation for a move.

“I didn’t know anything was wrong until she burped up a bubble in the car on the way home,” Brittany tells WebMD.

She called poison control immediately and was told to give her daughter some water, which she did. The little girl threw up and a trip to Nationwide Children’s ER confirmed that she was fine.

Jalliff says another young child recently treated at Nationwide Children’s for hydrocarbon-related injury was not so lucky.

“The child suffered a horrendous injury to the lungs,” he says. “These are the types of exposures that we really hate to see.”

To reduce the risk of injury to young children, Jalliff recommends:

  • That parents and caregivers store the 800-222-1222 poison control hotline number on their cell phones and have it readily available in the home.
  • Storing all cleaning products, including spray bottles, in cabinets with child-resistant locks when young children are in the home.
  • Keep cleaning products in their original packaging.

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