Common Poisons with Children

We all know that kids will experiment with anything, and most of that experimentation involves ingesting something that isn’t edible. Parents often worry about their children being poisoned in their own home, and they have reason for this worry- 92% of children poisonings are in the home (National Academy of Poison Control Centers). With 52% of these poisons being exposed to children under the age of 6, it’s important to know the least likely poisons that kids can fall victim to easily, and the ones that are more obvious. Here are the most common poisons with children that parents should be looking out for.

Cosmetics are toxic, even to parents, but for kids (who have faster metabolic rates) these cosmetics, including lipstick, concealer, mascara, makeup remover, etc, can be detrimental. Since kids love to play around in the bathroom, make sure all cosmetics and hygiene products (including shampoo and conditioner) are out of reach, as ingesting these things (which are full of harmful chemicals) can be very dangerous to kids.

Of course, cleaning products are the items most parents think of first when they think of poisons. And they’re right- all those brightly colored liquids and cool-looking containers are like a candy store to kids. Besides being dangerous to skin on contact (resulting in rashes and burns), many of these products can be lethal if ingested by children, even something so simple as window cleaner. Keep all cleaning products far away from children and their wandering hands.

Pain medications, vitamins, and gastrointestinal aids can be very harmful to children if they get their hands on them. While Rolaids and Tums may be a great idea for an adult, for a small child who eats the candy-like medicine, it can be poisonous to them. Even vitamins are bad news- consuming large amounts of vitamins that look like candy to kids can wreak havoc on their systems, and is a common source of child poisonings. Keep all pain medication, no matter how simple (even Pepto Bismol) out of children’s reach at all times.

Kids often get curious about pesticides in the house as well. The little blue tablets of “De-con” look like candy, and can be fatal to children if consumed. If using even ant bait or plant fertilizer in the home, keep it where children and pets can’t reach it. A reported case of a parent pouring a plant fertilizer into a soda bottle for storage resulted in a child taking a single drink of the bottle, thinking it was soda- the child was brain-dead in 17 hours. Pesticides are absolutely fatal to children, even in minute amounts.

Diaper cream is among common poisons in children as well. Just because something is safe to use on your child, like sunscreen, diaper cream, or other ointments used in the house (including acne creams for yourself) they should still be kept far and away. Children often suck on or chew the tubes and containers, and accidentally ingest the contents.

And finally, don’t forget about your cough syrups and cold medications (including meds for allergies and such). Again, we have pretty bottles and fun bright tablets that kids get curious about. In large doses, these medications can cause irregular heart rhythm, and can be fatal. keep these items out of reach.

note: based on my own childhood experience, might I add keeping laxatives out of reach as well. Kids will eat that chocolate-flavored laxative like there is no tomorrow, and diarrhea and dehydration (and possible hospitalization) will ensure.