Upstate News

March 20, 2006
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Kids ingesting cosmetics topped list of calls to Upstate New York Poison Center in 2005

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Questions about children ingesting deodorant, after-shave, makeup, perfume, baby oil and other cosmetic items were among the most common calls placed last year to the Upstate New York Poison Center.

The statistics released this month, Poison Prevention Month, show that the Poison Center received 1,708 calls last year-or nearly 5 calls a day-regarding cosmetic poisonings. Calls related to the exposure to cleaning products were the next most popular call received by the center with 1,104. More than 20,000 calls related to children under 5 were made last year to the center.

“Children see their parents using these cosmetic products and children often choose to imitate their parents,” said Gail Banach, education director of the Upstate New York Poison Center. “Fortunately, most cosmetics are not toxic. While a child may show symptoms related to the exposure, like nausea, a rash or sleepiness, generally, there is no serious reaction to these products.”

When it comes to cleaning products, Banach warns parents to make sure these are stored safely, away from children. “Cleaning products can contain strong chemicals that can be harmful, so it’s a good idea to make sure these products are not where children can reach them,” she said.

Another frequent call to the center relates to unintentional multi-dosing. “Adults need to take a little extra time to thoroughly read the dosing information and the ingredients on any drug, especially if they are giving it to a child,” she said. “We get numerous calls from parents who gave their child one medicine for a cough and cold, and then gave a pain reliever to the same child for an ear ache. Most often cold medicines contain pain relievers. Checking the directions and ingredient labels can prevent multi-dosing. If you are not sure, you can always call the Poison Center. We like calls that help prevent poisonings before they happen. “

Banach also asks parents to double check the measurements on any special measuring spoons to ensure they are giving the correct amount of medication.

When calling the Poison Center, Banach says to first remove the child from the poisonous situation and then call the Poison Center. Be sure to bring the container to the phone to provide accurate information about the substance. Also, the caller should know how much the child weighs. “We recommend that families have this information easily accessible so that if a babysitter or grandparent calls the Poison Center, they will know how much the child weighs, which is vital to helping us manage the situation,” she said.

Banach said a call to the Poison Center is a good way to lessen anxiety and alleviate worry. “After calming callers as they answers our questions, we are able to manage most poisonings at home,” she said, noting that most often the Poison Center calls back to see how the child is doing. Although 85 percent of cases are managed in the home, there are times when the Poison Center will recommend that the child be taken to the nearest emergency department.

The Poison Center also receives its share of calls regarding potential adult poisonings. The most common calls from adults dealt with accidental overdosing of sedatives, analgesics and antidepressants.

The Upstate New York Poison Center, which serves 34 counties in eastern and central New York is a regional, certified center of the American Association of Poison Control Centers and is affiliated with University Hospital. Last year, the Poison Center handled more than 34,000 calls.

To reach the Poison Center, call 1-800-222-1222.

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