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Childhood Poisoning

Posted May 09 2009 12:00am

Lead poisoning occurs when too much lead gets into the body.  Young kids have the highest risk of poisoning because of their natural curiosity. Children are at greater risk than adults because children absorb lead more readily than adults, and a small amount of lead in children bodies can do a great deal of harm. Lead can cause irreversible damage to a child’s developing brain, so the effects of lead poisoning on children can therefore have a significant, long-lasting impact on learning and behavior of children.

Poison-proofing your home is the key to preventing childhood poisonings. Most people regard their home as a safe haven,however,  home can be a dangerous place when it comes to accidental poisoning, especially accidental poisoning of children. One tablet of some medicines can wreak havoc in or kill a child.

Although iron poisoning is the biggest concern when it comes to childhood poisoning, there is also concern about other drugs. Iron-Containing Products remain the [b]Biggest Problem[/b] by Far When It Comes to Childhood Poisoning.

Children poisoned with iron face immediate and long-term problems. Within minutes or hours of swallowing iron tablets, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal bleeding can occur. These problems can progress to shock, coma, seizures, and death. Even if a child appears to have no symptoms after accidentally swallowing iron, or appears to be recovering, medical evaluation should still be sought since successful treatment is difficult once iron is absorbed from the small intestine into the bloodstream. And children who survive iron poisoning can experience other problems, such as gastrointestinal obstruction and liver damage, up to four weeks after the ingested poisoning.

FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is taking steps to protect children from iron poisoning by proposing regulations that will make it harder for small children to gain access to high-potency iron products (30 milligrams of iron or more per tablet). FDA is also taking steps to ensure that health-care providers and consumers are alerted to the dangers associated with accidental overdoses of iron-containing products, including pediatric multivitamin supplements that contain iron.

Poison-Proofing Your Home
Poison-proofing your home is the key to preventing childhood poisonings. In the case of iron-containing pills or any medicine:

  • Always close the container as soon as you’ve finished using it. Properly secure the child-resistant packaging, and put it away immediately in a place where children can’t reach it.
  • Never change container of pills, always keep pills in their original container.
  • Keep iron-containing tablets, and all medicines, out of reach–and out of sight–of children.
  • Then never keep medicines on a countertop or bedside table.
  • Always follow medicine label directions carefully to avoid accidental overdoses or misdoses that could result in accidental poisoning.

Signs of Poisoning
When a child was well before and in a space of hours develops unusual symptoms: They can’t follow you with their eyes, they’re sleepy before it’s their nap time, their eyes go around in circles. Any unusual or new symptoms should make you think of poisoning as a possibility,” Rodgers advises. “Poisonings typically affect the stomach and central nervous system. If a child suddenly throws up, that can be more difficult to diagnose.

Burns around the lips or mouth can also be a sign of poison ingestion, stains of the substance around the child’s mouth, or the smell of a child’s breath. Suspect a possible poisoning if you find an opened or spilled bottle of pills.

childhood lead poisoning 300x234 Childhood Poisoning

HOW CAN PARENTS PREVENT LEAD POISONING?

It important for parents to be aware of the risk factors for lead poisoning and to minimize their child’s exposure before poisoning occurs.Every parents want their children to grow up normally in a safe environment but, regrettably, childhood poisonings occurs constantly in the media. What can adults do to reduce the number of these incidents?

Parents must understand the basic nature of children, especially the intense curiosity and willingness to try anything of the pre-schooler. These characteristics combined with a woefully insufficient understanding of things lead to tragic resultsswallowing medicines, insecticides, household cleaning compounds and other dangerous items by accident. Children may see adults taking medicine and then mimic their behavior once they themselves get access to it. Children are more sensitive to toxic substances because their bodies are far more fragile than those of adults; and once they have been poisoned, they suffer much greater harm.

Parents should rid the environment of potential dangers. There shouldn’t be things like medicines, household cleaners, insecticides, paint, mosquito vaporizer liquid, camphor pellets, or air fresheners be stored in places where children might come into contact them. Cosmetics (fingernail polish, hair styling gel, perfume, nail polish remover, etc.) should also be securely stored away to prevent a child from accidentally ingesting them.

Most exposure to lead occurs at home. Older homes often have leaded interior or exterior paint. Dust from the deterioration of this paint can create a lead hazard. The most common sites of risk in the home are at windows, porches, or entryway areas. Parents can be advised to keep these areas clean and prevent children from playing in these areas unless the risk of exposure is low. Renovations that disturb leaded paint can release dust in a home and should not be attempted without expert advice and training. Soil around older homes may be contaminated with lead from paint residue, and soil along busy streets may have leaded gasoline residue. At-risk children may also live in areas with industries nearby such as lead smelters or battery recycling plants that have emitted lead dust into the air and soil

Lead found in water tends to occur in much lower concentrations than lead in paint or soil, and it therefore presents much lower risk. The major source of lead in water is the solder found in pipes in older homes. Before using water for cooking or drinking, parents are advised to: (1) run tap water for 15 to 30 seconds if it has not been used for a few hours; and (2) use cold water, which leaches lead more slowly than warm or hot water.

Children with iron deficiency or with low daily calcium intake absorb lead more readily, so parents will want to make sure that their child’s diet contains sufficient–although not excessive–amounts of these nutrients (ATSDR, 1995; AAP, 1998; EPA, 1999). Parents cannot prevent their children from putting things in their mouths, but parents can prevent them from reaching potentially dangerous items and teach them to wash their hands before eating. These measures are parts of the solution, but they are insufficient to prevent lead poisoning if the environmental risk is still present.

carbon monoxide is also a major killer. Hot water heaters should be installed outside the room where there is plenty of air circulation. And air circulation inside the room should also be maintained at all times to reduce the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning. To prevent childhood poisoning, adults should be fully vigilant, increase their understanding of the dangers, and adopt appropriate preventative measures. In this way, they will be able effectively to reduce the number of these incidents. At the same time, adults should take every opportunity in their day-to-day life to teach their children to understand better the dangers of accidental poisoning–this itself will prove an effective weapon in the fight against childhood poisoning.

In conclusion
After understanding the basic nature of the child and how to handle toxic substances, the next responsibility of the adult is to rid the environment of potential dangers. Under no circumstances, just because it is convenient, should things like medicines, household cleaners, insecticides, paint, mosquito vaporizer liquid, camphor pellets, or air fresheners be stored in places where children might come into contact them. Cosmetics (fingernail polish, hair styling gel, perfume, nail polish remover, etc.) should also be securely stored away to prevent a child from accidentally ingesting them.

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