Fort Worth, Texas,

What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Has Been Poisoned

Emergency doctor provides important advice to parents

Every year Cook Children’s receives more than 600 children due to poisonings. Seventy-five percent are medication related. Children can be accidentally poisoned by finding medication belonging to a friend or family member at their house or in their purse or bag; or by getting into a cabinet that contains household cleansers like bleach or window spray.

“Telling your child that medicine is candy or disguising it as candy in anyway is never a good idea,” said Corwin Warmink, M.D., medical director of Emergency Services at Cook Children’s. “Young children who can’t read labels may not know the difference between candy and pills or between juice and a cleaner. If you stack them side-by-side, you would have a hard time distinguishing between Sudafed tablets and candies like Red Hots, Tic Tacs or red M&Ms.”

So what do you do if you suspect your child has been poisoned?

Call the North Texas Poison Center help number at 1-800-222-1222 if someone in your family eats, drinks, breathes, touches poison or gets it in the eyes.

1. Program the Poison Center number into your cell phone today.

2. Don’t be afraid to call. Only the people who help you will know your name.

3. The phone line is available 24/7 and your call is free. More than 150 languages are spoken.

4. The Poison Center is staffed by nurses, pharmacists and doctors.

“Parents should call 9-11 immediately if a child, or anyone else in the family, won’t wake up or is having trouble breathing or is having seizures,” Dr. Warmink said.

Here are 5 other things you should know if you expect your child has been poisoned:

1. If your child has swallowed poison, have him or her spit out as much as possible.

2. Don’t make the child vomit, unless the label on the poison or local poison control center ask you to do so. “Vomiting can often times cause even more problems,” Dr. Warmink said. “First of all, it’s usually not very effective at removing the poison and the vomit can also go down the wrong way and find its way into the lungs. Another concern is that products such as cleaners and dishwasher powders can actually cause more burning.”

3. Don’t be alarmed if the child does vomit on his or own, but call for advice. “Sometimes it’s a natural reaction for a child to throw up,” Dr. Warmink said. “If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to give the child a few sips of water and then call the North Texas Poison Center.

4. Don’t use syrup or ipecac to induce vomiting. “This is not something that we recommend any longer as a routine treatment for poisoning,” Dr. Warmink said.

5. Don’t give your child milk without consulting a medical professional first. “First, consult with the professionals at the North Texas Poison Center,” Dr. Warmink said. “Milk can be helpful at times, but depending on what the child absorbed, the milk can increase the possibility of poisoning.” The same holds true for other fluids, such as juice or soda, consult with the Poison Center first.

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About the Source

Corwin Warmink, M.D., is medical director of Cook Children's Emergency Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cook Children's Emergency Department (ED) treats more than 105,000 patients every year. Our ED is the only EMS-designated pediatric trauma center in Tarrant County. Now, thanks to years of dedication and hard work, Cook Children'sMedical Center has reached Level II Trauma Designation from the American College of Surgeons and the Department of State Health Services. Cook Children's Medical Center is one of nine such facilities in the state of Texas. Click to learn more.

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