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Poison Prevention

Each year, more than a million young children in the U.S. swallow or come in 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. Michelle Miner, assistant professor of pediatrics at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.

SOUND BITE:  “Some of the common poisonings that we see are in children are household cleaners, personal care and beauty products and over-the-counter medications.  Actually over-the-counter medications and vitamins can be some of the most dangerous for little kids.”

Dr. Miner 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.  She suggests safety measures to prevent poisonings.

SOUND BITE:  “. . . Store any medications or drugs in a specific medicine cabinet that’s locked or that’s out of reach. (3:10) . . .  (3: 38) Keep medicines in their own bottle.  Never put them in something like a food container.  Never tell your child that medicine is candy when trying to get them to take it.  Keep medicines in containers with child safety caps.”

If a child has ingested something that could be poisonous, Dr. Miner 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.