Accidental Poisoning In Babies: Prevention And First Aid

4 min read

By Dr. Chetan Ginigeri,MBBS(JIPMER), MD (PGIMER), Fellowship PICU (Kings College London)
Head of Dept – Paediatric & Neonatal services, Aster CMI Hospital
17 years of experience

Accidental poisonings mean one gets poisoning themselves unintentionally or unknowingly. Babies are more often prone to accidental poisoning. This is because they are fond of putting anything and everything they get directly inside their mouths as they are not aware of the consequences of it. Strangely almost 70-80% of child poisoning cases happen when the child is a year old till four years or so. It is very integral for the parents to be aware of and prevent the child from consuming or ingesting the poison as it can be harmful to the baby. The babies love to keep exploring and experimenting with their surroundings, so as parents, we should do a check and ensure there are no poisonous objects around, any sharp ones as well. Apart from a few things that, as a parent, one can keep away, there are still many in the household which can be harmful. So, it is ideal for getting know-how of those and keeping it away from the reach of the baby if one needs it.

Poison Safety

Household Items Which Can Cause Poisoning In Babies

Poisonous items are available all over the house, starting from cosmetics, fertilizers, sprays, etc. These are not poisonous in the literal sense but if taken in excess quantity can be hazardous and medicines are one of the most common items that are picked up by a baby while exploring, so it is important to throw all expired ones and label and keep the ones to be used away from the vision of the baby.
It would be surprising to know that there are many things found in almost all households that are dangerous if consumed by the baby. These are commonplace items which one cannot do without, but they pose a great threat for the baby, so the parents should be alert about the items in the home, and a list of these is given as under:

  • Cosmetic products
  • Cleaning Liquids
  • Naphthalene Balls
  • Medicines
  • Plants
  • Toiletries
  • Garden sprays
  • Alcohol
  • Make-up
  • Paints
  • Perfumes
  • Adhesives
  • Oils used for aromatherapy
  • Mouthwash
  • Cell batteries
  • Dishwashing powder/ liquid
  • Cockroach powder or ant powder on the floor.
  • Bleach
  • Shoe Polishes
  • Kerosene
  • Oven cleaners
  • Stain removal products
  • Mosquito sprays

 Signs Of Poisoning

Burning pain or blistering around his or her mouth with or without stains can appear if your little one swallowed something acidic (like bleach or other cleaning fluid). Poisoning is harmful to all and, most importantly, for the baby, so any unexpected ailments in the baby could indicate that he has ingested or swallowed poison. As a parent, one must take the utmost care and look out for any signs which are sudden and disturbing for the baby. In case there is a doubt that the baby has ingested or swallowed a harmful thing, keep a tab on the symptoms below and seek immediate medical help.

  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Sudden stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Burning in the mouth
  • Fever or chilly feeling
  • Vomiting
  • Drools more than often
  • Breathing problems
  • Loss of hunger
  • Rashes or boils
  • Headaches
  • Lips or skin becoming blue
  • Baby getting unconscious

First Aid For Child Poisoning

Ingesting or swallowing poison by the baby could be life-threatening, as well. It is mostly seen that a child unknowingly consumes poison without knowing how dangerous it is for them. Thus, if your child has accidentally taken in poison, there are some very important steps that should be taken to keep the baby safe and offer instant help.

  • It becomes important to know exactly what the child has consumed, the quantity, and the time when the object or substance was consumed by the child.
  • It is important to make a call for the ambulance.
  • Always keep samples of the poison ingested to show to the doctor or the ambulance staff so that they can figure out the issues and its after-effects.
  • Process the CPR is it is required.
  • Take your child immediately to the nearby hospital, which has an accident and emergency unit if he or she swallowed:
  • Button battery
  • Sharp objects like pin
  • Household chemicals like bleach
  • Garden chemicals like weed killers

Preventive Measures

The poison can be taken in any form. It could be sprayed, splashed in the eye, could have come in touch with the skin, inhaled, ingested, swallowed. Babies generally have taken poison while at home, but the same can happen while one has been on an outing. It has been seen that most of the time, parent’s despite being careful, do leave poisonous substances or toxic substances well within sight of the baby. It is thus important to keep a checklist ready for all the stuff available in the house and put a label and, if dangerous, keep it away from the baby’s reach. Some other preventive steps that can be taken are as below:

  • It is important to childproof the drawers that contain hazardous or sharp objects or keep it at a height where the child cannot access the same.
  • It is better not to rely on any childproof containers as they are not completely safe.
  • Never keep any medicines or pills so that the baby can access it.
  • It is better to keep all cleaning agents, fertilizers, pesticides, sprays in their original containers or bottles, and never keeps them in any empty food cans or containers as that can create confusion for the baby, and he might try to eat it.
  • It is prudent to always wash out any remains from cosmetic boxes and old medicine bottles.
  • When at someone else’s place, ensure that the child is safe, carry all childproofing instruments with you.
  • In case a bag is filled with sprays, perfumes, etc., keep it away from the child’s reach as inhaling them could be dangerous for the child.

Thus, with the growth of the baby, exploration and experimentation become their new toy. They try to fiddle with whatever they find interesting without understanding any of its consequences. It then becomes the duty of the adult, parent, or guardian to ensure the safety of the baby and keep administering the child and teach him about right and wrong till he gets mature enough to be able to handle it.

Dr. Chetan Ginigeri,MBBS(JIPMER), MD (PGIMER), Fellowship PICU (Kings College London)
Head of Dept – Paediatric & Neonatal services, Aster CMI Hospital
17 years of experience

Dr Chetan Ginigeri is an experienced Pediatric Intensivist with national and international training. With 15 years of experience, he is one among very few Intensivists in India trained to take care of children who need/had organ transplants. He has been responsible for coordinating the Pediatric Organ Transplant program.Read more.

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