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Poison Prevention

Each year, more than a million young children in the U.S. swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance.

Many childhood injuries due to unintentional poisoning can be prevented.   A child can be accidently poisoned by a number of common substances found in the home, says Dr. Craig Batterman, assistant professor of pediatrics at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.

SOUND BITE:  “One would be cosmetics of varying sorts.  Two would be personal care products – anything you could find in the bathroom.  Cleaning products of course.  Then finally, analgesics like ibuprofen, Tylenol or acetaminophen . . .”

Dr. Batterman says because of a young child’s smaller size, the amount of substance is more dangerous in their system than it would be for an older child.  Also, children under the age of five are more likely to ingest something they shouldn’t because they are always exploring.  He suggests safety measures to prevent poisonings.

SOUND BITE:  “. . . one, either locking the cabinet up if you can’t move the chemical or item, or two, keeping the chemical well above well out of reach of the children.  As children grow they are able to reach more areas and have more ways of getting to those areas, so putting them in a high cabinet or a locked cabinet would be one thing.”
If a child has ingested something that could be poisonous, Dr. Batterman suggests calling the national poison prevention hotline at 800-222-1222, which is staffed 24 hours a day.  If the child becomes seriously ill, call 911 or take them to the emergency room.  For information about poison prevention, go to the national Web site at

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.