Facts About Poisons Children are naturally inquisitive and love to explore their world. Infants tend to put everything in their mouths and toddlers grab whatever looks interesting. Adolescents may experiment with drugs and other mind-altering substances. Consider these facts about poisonings in the United States:
- Each year, poison control centers receive approximately 1.5 million calls about accidental poisonings. More than 75 percent of these calls involve children under 5 years of age. In the state of Wisconsin, children age 5 years and younger account for more than 18,000 reported cases of poison exposure annually, representing more than 60% of the total reported poisonings.
- Poisoning is the fourth leading cause of death in children.
- The peak incidence of poisonings occurs between 1 and 3 years of age.
- Poisonings in infants younger than 1 year of age usually result from improper use of medications, such as giving the wrong medication or wrong dose of a medication.
- Eighty-seven percent of poisonings in children occur in the home.
- In children, approximately 57 percent of poisonings involve products other than medicines such as plants, cleaning products, cosmetics, pesticides, paints, and solvents; 43 percent of poisonings involve medications.
- Iron medications are the most common cause of poisonings in children younger than 5 years of age.
- There are more than 700 poisonous plants in the US; plants are the second leading cause of poisoning in children.
What is "the arsenic hour?"
Peak calls to poison control centers occur between 4 and 10 p.m. In fact, dinnertime is such a busy time of day for most families, that many times parents do not supervise their children as closely as usual. This is a common time of day for childhood poisonings to occur and has led poison center staff to call this time of day "the arsenic hour."
The good news is that prompt treatment can prevent most serious reactions. And, of course, poison prevention is always the best cure.
Be prepared for a poisoning emergency by posting the poison center telephone number by every phone in your home. The National Poison Control telephone number is 1-800-222-1222. In the state of Wisconsin, all calls made to this number are transferred to the Wisconsin Poison Center.
American Association of Poison Control Centers
3201 New Mexico Avenue, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20016
If you have a poisoning emergency, call your local poison center immediately.
If the child has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911, or your local emergency medical services (EMS).
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