- “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.
- “My Child Ate…The Christmas Tree”
While out holiday shopping, the bright, glowing colors and small round shapes of Christmas tree lights might look like a tasty delicacy to some small children. In this case, toxicity isn’t a huge concern if a child were to swallow a small decorative light; however the potential obstruction of a child’s airway or intestinal tract can potentially pose a serious health risk. Risks of other holiday decorations include:
Angel hair, which is commonly used to decorate Christmas trees, consists of spun glass, which can cause injury to the eyes and mouth upon contact, causing severe irritation and pain.
Christmas tree ornaments have the potential to cut or block airway passages if they are swallowed. Sometimes, ornaments are made from food products; be aware of children who may try to eat such ornaments.
Snow globes are glass or plastic domes filled with water that reveal a winter “snow” scene when shaken. The snow is made from a non-toxic chalk-like or plastic substance. If the fluid ingested (due to a break or crack in the globe), the fluid contained in the globe could potentially become contaminated with harmful bacteria over time and cause vomiting and diarrhea. Call the Illinois Poison Center immediately if you have concerns or need further information on what to do for these Christmas tree exposures.
- “My Child Ate…A Penny – Or Maybe it was a Battery!”
Another frequent pediatric call involves a small child who has swallowed a penny or some other foreign body that may have fallen onto the floor/ground/purse, etc.. We know that children learn about their surroundings by touching and tasting EVERYTHING. If your little explorer suddenly becomes the family piggy bank, call the IPC for immediate treatment advice. During the call we’ll ask the child’s age, weight, type of item and size of the item, in order to determine the next steps. For example, there is no risk of toxicity from the metal in a swallowed coin, but the size could pose a choking or airway obstruction risk. A button or disc battery, if swallowed, could cause potentially serious burns to the esophagus and intestines. For more information about preventing button battery ingestions visit the Battery Control website – www. http://thebatterycontrolled.com/
- “My Child Ate…Snow Melt Salt”
Snow Melt Salt is common substance responsible for many calls the Illinois Poison Center in the winter months, most commonly due to salt brought into the house by winter boot. Otherwise known as ‘rock salt’, snow/ice melt products contain: salt, sodium chloride (which is the same thing as table salt), magnesium chloride, postassium chloride or calcium chloride. Sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium are all electrolytes that have important functions in human cells. One or two pebbles of rock salt in a healthy toddler is considered minimally toxic, but larger amounts can be dangerous. Always call the IPC if your kiddo samples some of this stuff.
- “My Child Ate…A Glow Stick”
Every year the Illinois Poison Center receives several calls regarding glow sticks, especially around certain holidays (i.e. Halloween and the Fourth of July). The chemical that makes them glow is called dibutyl phthalate; but despite the scary sounding name, noxious chemical-like smell and eerie glow, these exposures rarely cause more than mild irritation. If it gets on the skin or in the mouth, it should be washed off immediately. If the glow stick substance gets into the eye or more than mild oral or skin irritation is present, call the IPC (1-8000-222-1222) immediately for treatment recommendation.
Don’t forget to check out the “My Child Ate…” resource center which gives toxicity level and treatment information for the most common substances/products ingested by children. Click here for IPC’s free online Poison Prevention Education Course (available in English and Spanish), free Continuing Education Credit/CEC and access to a variety of free educational materials you can share with your family, friends, community (stickers, posters, activity sheets/books, brochures, etc.).
And just in case you missed any of the post from the “My Child Ate…” blog series here they are: