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Most Common Causes of Poisoning in Children

Most Common Causes of Poisoning in Children

National Poison Prevention Week is an annual event observed in the United States during the third week of March to raise awareness about the dangers of unintentional poisonings and how to prevent them. This week is a reminder that even everyday household items can pose a risk to young children if not handled properly.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), poisonings are a leading cause of injury and death in the United States, with children under six years old being the most vulnerable. In fact, the AAPCC reports that approximately half of all poison exposures reported in the US involve children under the age of six. It's crucial for parents and caregivers to be aware of the most common causes of poisonings in children and take steps to prevent them.

A poison is something that can make you sick if you eat, drink, touch, or breathe it. Poisons can be found everywhere in the home, and even seemingly harmless items can become dangerous if swallowed. Poisonings happen every day.

Most Common Causes of Poisonings in Kids

One of the most common causes of poisonings in children are medications and vitamins. Children may accidentally ingest medication that was not stored properly or mistaken for candy. It's important to keep all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, out of reach of children and stored in their original containers with child-resistant caps. Additionally, adults should always read labels and follow dosing instructions carefully to avoid overmedicating children.

common causes of poisoning children

Household cleaning products and chemicals are another frequent cause of poisonings in children. Many of these products are brightly colored and smell attractive to children, making them more likely to be ingested. Parents should always store these products in a locked cabinet or high up out of reach of children, and never leave them unattended while in use. Additionally, parents should be mindful of potential hazards outside the home, such as garden and pool chemicals.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is another serious threat to both children and adults. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be produced by heating systems, generators, and other fuel-burning appliances. Children are especially vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning because their smaller bodies can be overcome by the gas more quickly than adults. It's important to install carbon monoxide detectors in every room of the home that has a fuel-burning appliance, and to have all appliances serviced regularly to ensure they’re functioning properly.

Ingestion of poisonous plants and mushrooms can also be a cause of poisoning in children. Children may be drawn to bright colors and interesting shapes of plants and mushrooms, making it crucial for parents to identify and remove any potentially dangerous ones from their yards. Additionally, parents should educate their children about the dangers of eating unknown plants or mushrooms and supervise them while playing outside.

Other common causes of poisoning in children:

  • Cosmetics and personal care items
  • Car fluids - antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, and gasoline
  • Bug and weed killers, fertilizers, and plants
  • Batteries
  • Alcohol and e-cigarettes
  • Carbon monoxide and lead
  • Arts and crafts supplies

National Poison Prevention Week serves as an important reminder for parents and caregivers to be vigilant in preventing unintentional poisonings in children. By taking simple precautions such as storing medications and household chemicals out of reach, installing carbon monoxide detectors, and removing potentially dangerous plants from the home, we can help keep our children safe.

If you suspect a child has ingested any substance that is poisonous and they are breathing, contact the Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222. If the child continues to get worse, becomes unconscious, stops breathing or has seizures, call 911 immediately!

Norman Regional Emergency Departments

Norman Regional operates four 24-hour emergency departments seven days a week. Locations at Norman Regional Moore, Norman Regional HealthPlex, Norman Regional Porter and Norman Regional Nine. Each emergency department has an expert team of board-certified emergency medicine physicians, nurses, technicians and more. Our team can performed needed testing from x-rays to lab work.

We provide comprehensive care delivered by teams of board- certified emergency physicians and trauma and critical care skilled registered nurses, ED techs, secretaries and lab assistants. During peak hours, five teams of physicians and staff work to treat patients quickly and safely.

Norman Regional Hospital’s Emergency Department is among the top five busiest in Oklahoma, with 44 beds and more than 70,000 annual visits from patients in and around Norman. Our average patient length of stay is nationally competitive — currently less than two hours for treated and released patients.