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Thursday 27th October 2016

Childhood poisonings rising

11th September 2009

Parents have been warned about the dangers to children after figures show an 11% rise in the number of enquiries about youngsters eating common household substances and medicines.


Painkillers ibuprofen and paracetamol were the most common, followed by desiccant silica gel, found in packaging to keep products dry.

But children also consumed decongestant oils, liquid clothes washing capsules, air fresheners, chewy vitamins, white spirit and contraceptive pills.

The Health Protection Agency had also most 19,000 inquiries about children under 10 to its National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) where health care professionals can seek help about how to treat cases.

In addition, there were tens of thousands more hits on the website.

While statistics show that 90% of cases involving children under 10 were accidental, almost 50% of cases with young people aged 10-19 were a result of deliberate acts.

In the majority of cases children did not suffer harm but NPIS director Professor Simon Thomas said his organisation was concerned by the high proportion of enquiries involving children.

“Parents and guardians should do all they can to keep children away from contact with potentially harmful medicines and from chemicals used in the house or garden,” he said.

“Where possible, these substances should be kept locked away and in childproof containers.”

The NPIS saw a significant rise in inquiries from health professionals about poisonings with 57,000 by telephone and 570,000 online enquiries in 2008/9 up by 19% on the previous year.

The HPA said poisonings accounted for more than 500,000 NHS hospital bed days in the UK.


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