Intoxication or poisoning is the fifth leading cause of hospitalization for accidental reasons among children aged zero to 14 years. According to the Ministry of Health, in 2019, 3,876 boys and girls in this age group were hospitalized for this reason.
According to childhood and adolescence psychiatrist Danielle Admoni, graduated from the Escola Paulista de Medicina (Unifesp) and a specialist by the Brazilian Psychiatric Association (ABP), young children are generally intoxicated by products that we have in our own home. They can be medicines, cleaning products, cosmetics, insecticides, paints, solvents, among others.
“Putting things in their mouths and experiencing their taste is how young children explore the environment. This occurs in a quick moment of adult distraction. On average, 30% of deaths occur in January, July and December, when the risk of domestic accidents increases, including exogenous intoxication”, warns the psychiatrist.
According to her, most poisonings in children can be treated if immediate care is given. “If you think your child has ingested something toxic, be aware of the following signs and symptoms: strange stains on the child’s clothing, burns on the lips or mouth, excessive salivation or strong-smelling breath, nausea or vomiting with a sudden onset and without explanation, abdominal pain without fever, difficulty breathing, sudden changes in behavior (sleep, irritability or excitement). In more serious cases, there may even be seizures or loss of consciousness”, explains Danielle Admoni.
Know how to act
When intoxication occurs by ingestion of substances, first remove it from the child. If there’s a little left in her mouth, make her spit. Keep this material, packaging, labels, inserts or anything else that can help identify the substance. Check for the following signs: severe sore throat, excessive salivation, difficulty breathing, seizures, dizziness or excessive sleepiness. When in doubt, never induce vomiting. “If the substance is too acidic or too basic, causing vomiting can cause worsening and a new burn of the mucous membranes.”
The ideal, according to the psychiatrist, is to take the child to the nearest emergency room, call Samu (192) or Dial-Intoxication (0800-722-6001). The call is free and the service is offered in almost the entire national territory. “When calling, please have the following data at hand: the child’s name, age and weight, any diseases or medications that are in use; the name of the ingested substance and the information on the label; the time it was ingested and the estimated amount swallowed”, advises Danielle.
In the emergency room, treatment is based on four main items: reducing the body’s exposure to the toxic, promoting the elimination of the already absorbed toxic, use of antidotes and, finally, general and supportive measures. “Often, it is necessary to carry out exams and remain under observation for 6 to 12 hours.”
If intoxication occurs through contact with the skin, in which case the child drops some dangerous substance on the body, take off all the clothes and wash them with cold water, until removing all the product as much as possible. If there is a burn and it is mild (reddish in appearance) and does not blister, use cold compresses periodically to relieve the pain. You can use liquid petroleum jelly to hydrate and, if necessary, administer analgesics. Never apply any type of ointment on the burn.
In case of contact with eyes, wash them well with running water. For young children, another adult may be needed to hold it. Wash thoroughly and call the Poison Center for advice. Do not drip drops or any other substance into the eye.
prevent is better
“Around 90% of domestic accidents could have been avoided with preventive measures. Therefore, it is essential to guide families on the subject”, says Danielle Admoni. In addition to keeping drugs and toxic products locked up and out of the reach of children, she cites other guidelines:
– Do not take medication in front of children, as they like to imitate adults
– Do not call medication “candy”, or “sweetie” just so that she agrees to take it
– Check the prescribed label and dosage, especially at dawn, with a light on
– Never change the packaging of a product, putting toxic substances in soda bottles or food cans
– Give preference to medicine packages that have safety caps
– Do not keep the car engine running in a closed garage. If you smell gas, immediately turn off and call the gas company
– Do not offer packages or bottles containing medicines for a child to play with. After all, medicine is not a toy
– Leave the telephone number of SAMU and the Poison Center always in an easily accessible place, including for nannies or other caregivers of the child.
– Double your attention when visiting friends and relatives who do not have children. Probably, the place will not have the same care as your home. (From the Newsroom)