The study, which was carried out by researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, revealed that more than 64,000 children under the age of five were treated in emergency rooms across the country for injuries stemming from personal care products in the years from 2002 to 2016, which equates to roughly one child every two hours.
Three fourths of these injuries involved a child swallowing a product, while a fifth occurred when a product got into a child’s eyes or skin, resulting in poisonings and chemical burns.
One of the co-authors of the study, Rebecca McAdams, pointed out how easily these incidents can occur. Children this age can’t read, so they have no way of knowing what’s inside the bottle, which is often colorful and may even have a sweet, candy-like smell. Nail polish remover might look like juice, for example, while lotion could be mistaken for yogurt.
The study, which was published in Clinical Pediatrics, found that nail care products were the top category that led to injuries in children, followed by hair care products, skin care products and fragrance products. The single product that caused the most ER visits was nail polish remover, but it was hair relaxers and perm solutions that led to more hospitalizations than any other products studied.
Another problem is the fact that children like to imitate their parents’ behavior. Because these items are often kept in places where they’re easy to reach and their containers aren’t normally child-resistant, it’s easy for kids to get into trouble.
In light of these statistics, it’s a good idea to take stock of your personal care products and ensure you’re taking steps to store them safely out of reach of children.
After you’ve used items like nail polish remover or hair treatment chemicals, put them up high and out of sight, preferably in a cabinet with a lock or latch. Try not to use these products when your kids are around to avoid piquing their curiosity, and never leave them unattended. Make a habit of putting them away immediately when you’ve finished using them.
You should also keep all of your personal care products inside their original containers so they can be easily identified should you need to contact poison control or a doctor. The researchers suggest all parents save the phone number for the National Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222, in their cell phones to save time; it's a good idea to keep it posted near home phones as well.
Finally, they say it’s never too early to start safe storage habits as nearly 60 percent of the injuries reported in their study involved children under the age of 2.
The number of children being poisoned or harmed by personal care products revealed by the study is alarming, and the researchers caution that the actual figure is likely higher because their study didn't take into account those children who are treated by doctors or at urgent care clinics. Thankfully, poisonings can be prevented easily by being vigilant and storing dangerous products safely.
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