Lockdowns Coincide With Rise in Child Poisonings From Cleaners

Poisonings are up about 20% so far this year, Philadelphia hospital officials and federal authorities say

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One toddler became dizzy, fell and hit her head after drinking from a large bottle of hand sanitizer. A woman had a scary coughing and wheezing fit while soaking her produce in a sink containing bleach, vinegar and hot water.

Reports of accidental poisonings from cleaners and disinfectants are up this year, and researchers believe it's related to the coronavirus epidemic.

Such poisonings were up about 20% in the first three months of this year, compared with the same period in 2018 and 2019, according to a report this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jill Friedhoff, a Philadelphia mother, told NBC10 that she and her husband are more careful than ever after a close call recently involving one of their children and some sanitizer.

"I noticed that he had a hold of a hand sanitizer that was hanging from the diaper bag, and he had it in his mouth," Friedhoff said.

Dr. Jeanette Trella, managing director of the Poison Control Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said child poisonings in Philadelphia match the national report's findings, noting a rise locally of 20%.

The authors of the CDC report said they can't prove coronavirus drove the increase, but said it seems likely the two are linked, given the number of stay-at-home orders and guidance to clean hands and dirty surfaces. They warned against using more cleaner than directed, mixing multiple products together or using them in poorly ventilated areas.

The report was based on more than 45,000 recent calls to 55 poison control centers across the country involving exposures to cleaning chemicals or disinfectants.

The same period in 2019 saw 38,000 such calls, while 2018 had 39,000.

Roughly 40% of calls this year were about poisonings in children age 5 or younger, but increases were seen in all age groups. Bleach accounted for the largest share of the increase overall, but for young children the rise was mainly in mishaps involving nonalcohol disinfectants and hand sanitizers, the CDC reported.

The American Heart Association provided some tips to stay healthy while social distancing at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education.

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