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Saturday 16 February 2019

Parents put on alert as 191 toddlers eat capsules of detergent

Gel detergents. Photo: Getty Images.
Gel detergents. Photo: Getty Images.
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

SCORES of young children are still suffering injury after swallowing brightly coloured detergent gel capsules which they mistake for sweets.

One toddler suffered corneal abrasion - damage to the surface of the eye - after exposure to the strong chemicals in a detergent capsule.

Three others suffered damage to their central nervous systems, affecting their breathing and heartbeat.

And 87 of the children who swallowed some of the contents ended up vomiting, according to the annual report of the National Poisons Centre in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.

Patricia Casey, the centre's manager, said it received 191 calls about these liquid capsules last year, 93pc of which involved children under five.

The number has gone up in recent years - two years ago the centre said it received 144 inquiries from parents whose children had swallowed detergent capsules or squirted the contents into their eyes.

The numbers of accidents involving the capsules remains significant, despite better packaging, and parents need to remember the hazard they pose.

"Most had swallowed the liquid," said Ms Casey in response to the latest figures.

A small number of cases involving children suffering mild symptoms after swallowing nicotine in e-cigarettes was also recorded. Other household products which children are at risk from include disinfectant, DIY decorative products, dishwasher tablets, air freshener and toilet cleaner.

The centre received another 148 calls about potential poisoning with household bleach.

Ms Casey revealed that 16 involved adults who ended up inhaling chlorine gas, released after wrongly mixing bleach with an acid household cleaner.

"People do not always read the labels and can get carried away with household cleaning."

The centre received 9,520 calls in total last year with the majority concerning accidental poisoning or medical errors.

Most came from doctors and hospitals but 2,545 were from the public, up 7pc.

An estimated 17pc of all calls involved intentional overdoses or recreational drug abuse. Most poisonings occurred in the home or domestic setting.

Paracetamol was the most common drug involved, and accounted for 1,689 poisoning incidents. This was followed by another common painkiller, ibuprofen.

Other calls to the centre were about possible poisoning from range of substances including multivitamins, oral contraceptives, and aspirin or other substances.

Ms Casey said 199 cases involved patients taking recreational drugs. Cannabis was the most common, followed by cocaine and heroin.

The centre followed up 271 the cases, and while the majority recovered, 12 died following poisoning, and 17 suffered medical conditions as a result.

Drugs were involved in eight of the fatal cases - and five of these were classified as recreational drugs.

Irish Independent

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