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New Illinois Law Expands Allergy Treatment Options in Schools

Posted: November 8th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

How you would like your child’s school year to start out something like this: It is a typical day during lunchtime at the local elementary school cafeteria.  A kindergartner with a severe peanut allergy trades lunch with a friend.  Little does he know, the shared cookie contains peanut butter. The child develops a red rash, swelling around the eyes and has some trouble breathing within minutes of eating the cookie.  Pretty scary, right? The good news, schools are now better equipped to deal with life-threatening allergic reactions such as this thanks to the passage of new legislation which allows the stocking and administration of epinephrine auto-injectors (commonly referred to as Epi-pens™) in Illinois schools. Read more »


Babysitters & Nannies: Things to know before the parents go

Posted: November 1st, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

If you are a babysitter/sitter/nanny, or ever entrust your precious progeny to one of them, then this article is for you.  About half of the IPC’s 80,000 exposures every year involve kids age 5 and under, and more than 90% of all exposures happen in the home.  I think we all would agree that keeping children safe is the most important part of babysitting.  Potentially harmful substances come in many forms (liquids, tablets, solids, sprays and gases), and can look or smell like things that are good to eat and drink. As you know, young children are curious, and they learn about their environment by touching and placing things in their mouths.

My motto has always been, “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail”.  The time to ask questions is before the parents walk out, and when kids are involved, always prepare for the unexpected!  Below is a list of information to gather before you are left in charge (or leave others in charge of your child(ren): Read more »


Tricky Treats to Avoid This Halloween

Posted: October 25th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

A common Halloween concern, aside from the occasional ghoul and goblin, is the possibility of a child or family member being exposed to tainted candy. However, we recently came across some products and practices in the news that could present new concerns this Halloween.  Here are a few that really stuck out: marijuana shaped candy, alcohol soaked gummies, and supercharged snack cakes.

Popular Pot Pops

The first story which comes out of Buffalo, New York describes the sale of candy, believe it or not, in the shape of a marijuana plant. The sale of these products, “Pot Pops,” “Potheads,” and “Ring Pots” were brought to the attention of local authorities by concerned citizens. And if the product name alone  doesn’t light a spark then maybe the slogans will: Read more »


“My Child Ate…!” Honorable Mentions

Posted: October 11th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

There are just way too many “My Child Ate…” scenarios for us to write about! However here are a few honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the “My Child Ate…” series but are just as important:

  • “My Child Ate… The Dog’s Food”

Although it might be uberly gross to discover that your child has forgone your dinner delight for a canine cuisine, there’s no need to worry. Eating a mouthful of dog or cat food poses no immediate harm and toxicity should not be an issue. Read more »


“My Child Ate…Grandma’s Medicine”

Posted: September 13th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Over the next 4 weeks the IPC staff will contribute some of their most compelling cases from the call center that often start with three words, “my child ate…” We hope you enjoy this blog series, and we encourage you to share your own “My Child Ate…” stories or your poison center experience.

There is a burgeoning fascination with the strange things children eat.  If one were to do an internet search on the three words “my child ate”, it looks like a lot of children are eating Tums, poop (yes, poop, human and pet), pennies, crayons, deodorant and a host of household products.  Going beyond internet search, the TLC channel even has a TV show on the subject and has casting calls for the show “Your Child at What?” Read more »


Do the Math: Back to School Statistics

Posted: August 23rd, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

23 percent of teens report taking prescription pain relievers not prescribed to them.

As a medical toxicologist, I see the effects of prescription pain medication abuse in teens and young adults on a daily basis. As a parent of a 10 and 12 year old, I worry about their future, peer pressure, and possibly their own involvement with medication abuse in junior high and high school.

Prescription drug abuse, especially narcotic medications, continues to be an ongoing and increasing problem in the U.S. Read more »


Top 10 Drug and Poison Safety Tips

Posted: June 7th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

June is National Safety Month.  Did you know that potentially hazardous substances can be found in nearly every home?  Follow these tips to keep you and your family safe from potentially toxic exposures!

1. Store all medications, chemicals and household products out of reach and out of sight of children—ideally locked up. Read more »


It’s Illinois Poison Prevention Month!

Posted: March 1st, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Poisoning still remains a very serious public health problem in the United States. People encounter poisonous and toxic substances in their homes, communities, and work environments every day. Did you know unintentional poisoning deaths are the #1 cause of injury-related deaths for children ages 18-36 months and the 2nd leading cause of injury-related deaths for U. S. adults?  Last year the IPC handled over 92,000 calls.  Approximately 52% of those calls were regarding children age 5 and under.  As part of our mission to reduce the incidence and injury of poisoning in our communities, the IPC uses the signature month of March to further spread the message of poison prevention to families and communities across Illinois. Read more »


Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

Posted: February 22nd, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A decision to cut federal poison center funding is penny wise and pound foolish…

“Penny-wise and Pound Foolish” refers to unwise thrift, “like the man who lost his horse from his penny wisdom in saving the expense of buying new shoes when the old one was loose” or  “locating the gas station with the lowest gas prices, but driving 20 minutes out of the way to save $0.05 per gallon, or “parking and “just running in” without feeding the meter a quarter, but returning to find a parking ticket attached to your windshield.” In looking to reduce expenses, one can focus on the wrong things and doing so, neglect the larger picture and spend more money in the long run.

The House bill HR. 1 inclusion to essentially eliminate federal poison center support is just such an example.  Read more »


“All I Did Was Go To The Bathroom And…”

Posted: October 19th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

By Tony

No, this is not our attempt to make shameless PG-rated “bathroom humor.”  I haven’t conducted any studies nor am I equipped with any concrete statistics; all I have is my 30 years of observations as a certified toxicologist and those of other Illinois Poison Center call center staff. Yet I ask you to consider the following:  the act of going to the bathroom provides enough time and opportunity for any adventurous and clever toddler to get into mischief, which may unfortunately lead to an unwarranted injury or exposure. Read more »


The Truth About E-Cigarettes: A Potential Poisoning Hazard

Posted: September 14th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Tony Burda DABAT and Sheri VanOsdol Pharm.D.

Recently the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) received a call from a parent whose toddler ingested some contents of an e-cigarette cartridge containing nicotine.  We could find very little information addressing the accidental poisoning potential of these products in children, so we thought we’d share some information with you based on our findings. 

Electronic cigarettes or “e-cigarettes” are battery-powered tubes that heat liquid nicotine stored in a cartridge, into an inhalable vapor that looks and tastes like smoke from a regular cigarette.  These products are touted to be “safer” alternatives to cigarette smoking.  Often imported from other countries and distributed by multiple e-cigarette companies, they are marketed under various proprietary names.  These products are not currently regulated by the FDA, and their long-term safety has not been demonstrated.  Read more »


Back to School Means Changing Schedules…and Much More!

Posted: August 24th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Well it’s about that time of August where parents are rejoicing and kids are groaning:  the beginning of a new school year.  For most families, their summer and school year schedules are drastically different, and the transition can take some getting used to. Below are some common poisoning hazards that can happen to you or your family during this time of year and tips on how to avoid them.

Read more »


The Breakdown on K2

Posted: May 11th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

By Carol

If you’ve been watching the news or reading the paper lately, you may have heard about a legal marijuana substitute known by names such as K2, space, spice, magic potpourri, and the like.  The name K2 is presumed to be named after the real K2, a mountain in the Karakoram Range, that is the second highest peak on earth after Mt Everest. 

 The mountain is high, this fake weed gets you ‘high’…clever, eh?  So what is this stuff anyway?  Read more »

You might say the Illinois Poison Center is the antidote to unnecessary health care costs

Posted: January 26th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments »

A Poison Center means different things to different people

  • For a parent, it is a place to call for treatment advice if their child eats, drinks, rubs onto their skin or breathes a potentially harmful substance
  • For a doctor or nurse, it is the place to call for treatment recommendations for potentially poisoned patients in their care
  • For health educators, it is the lead organization for materials and assistance in providing poison prevention education in their communities
  • For researchers, our database is the place to come for trends and analysis for potentially emerging outbreaks to hazardous substances

At this time of year, as health care reform is debated at all levels of government and society, I think it is important to point out the financial value of poison centers.  It is conservatively estimated that the Illinois Poison Center saves $50 million dollars a year in health care costs, or about $12 for every dollar spent on providing poison center services to Illinois.  Not bad for a not-for profit with a $4.4 million dollar budget! Read more »