Children: how to avoid the risk of poisoning at home

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from Ida Macchi And Gerardo Antonelli

Animated by curiosity and desire to experiment, children can end up running into serious accidents, such as poisoning, even within the walls of the house. We asked the doctor Marta Crevanidoctor specializing in Medical Toxicology, how to limit the dangers and what needs to be done to intervene.

Detergents: never under the sink

«To risk more are the children between 2 and 4 years that, to explore the world around them, lead instinctively all in the mouth»Warns the expert. To avoid unpleasant surprises, remove detergents from easily accessible areas such as the compartment under the sink and the cooking area of ​​the kitchen (where it often happens to “forget” the detergent for dishes).


Safe fluoride medicines and toothpastes

For the same reason blisters and bottles of medicines away from drawers and bedside tables. Also, to avoid mistakes, it is better not to store pills and tablets in bulk. They must always be kept in their original packaging, with the package leaflet attached », recommends the expert. “Also be careful not to leave fluoride toothpastes for adults at hand: the amount of active ingredient they contain can be toxic for the little ones,” continues Crevani, who adds: “Potentially hazardous products must be stored in a cabinet , better if closed with a padlock. Furthermore, when choosing household cleaners it is good to orient yourself on products with a safety cap“.

Beware of behavior

Also beware of lightness that can be dangerous, such as inserting capsules and tabs in washing machines and dishwashers and then leave the appliance door open. “Or, pour the detergents into anonymous bottles, such as those of a soft drink or mineral water, which can be confused with normal drinks”, warns the doctor.


What to do in case of danger

If despite the precautions the little one is the victim of accidental ingestion you have to call a Poison Control Center directly or contact 118, who will immediately communicate with a Poison Control Center. After having indicated the age, weight and substance ingested by the child, at the other end of the line a specialist doctor will provide the indications to face the emergency.

“While waiting, never try to make the child vomit: if he has ingested a caustic product, regurgitating it would increase the damage to the esophagus”, warns Dr. Crevani.

Also forbidden to make him drink: liquids increase the volume of foaming products and the little one risks vomiting and suffocating. Even milk, in spite of common popular beliefs, should not be given: in some cases it can even worsen the course of intoxication.

Instead, it is advisable to keep a package of activated vegetable charcoal in powder at home (it is important that it is sold as a powder at the origin and that it is not the common crushed charcoal tablets) and dimethicone, to be taken only when the toxicologist suggests it: the first reduces the absorption of some substances, preventing them from spreading in the body and facilitating their elimination from the intestine; the second prevents the formation of foam in the stomach after ingesting detergents or soaps. “But when thepoisoning is severeyou have to go to the nearest emergency room, taking the package of the offending product or drug with you, ”warns Dr. Crevani.

The least worrying cases

If the little one accidentally swallows drugs, he immediately panics, but this is not always as serious as one fears: no danger, for example, when a child under 7 swallows 2 or 3 birth control pills. “His body is unable to” capture “the hormones contained in the contraceptive and the Poison Control Center should be consulted only if all or most of the blister has been ingested”, reassures Dr. Marta Crevani.

«No risk even if the child has taken vitamin C tablets because the body eliminates the surplus by itself and without damage. No alarms even if you have ingested mucolytics, both to be taken by mouth and by aerosol, with the exception of those that contain molecules to quell coughs, such as codeine: in this case it is necessary to consult the Poison Control Center “, the expert points out. “In any case, for any doubt or if you panic, it is always better to make a call to the Antivelen Centeri rather than improvising home remedies or deducing from the internet the procedures to deal with the potential intoxication », concludes Dr. Crevani.


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