Household beauty, personal care products send child to ER every 2 hours, study finds

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Your home may be hiding more potential dangers for your children than you may realize, according to a new study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. While we have all likely heard cautionary tales of young children ingesting harmful substances, such as shampoo, the results of this new study suggest that such occurrences are happening much more frequently than many may realize.

Researchers found that 64,686 children under the age of five were treated in U.S. emergency rooms due to injuries sustained by household personal care products between 2002 and 2016. Those numbers work out to approximately one child visiting an emergency room every two hours.

According to the study’s findings, children swallowing a harmful product is the most prevalent cause of injury (75.7%). The second most common occurrence is a care item making contact with a child’s eyes or skin (19.35). These events usually result in the child experiencing poisoning (86.2%) or chemical burns (13.8%).

Rebecca McAdams, MA, MPH, a co-author of the study, believes that a lot of these injuries could have been avoided with different packaging and labeling. “Kids this age can’t read, so they don’t know what they are looking at. They see a bottle with a colorful label that looks or smells like something they are allowed to eat or drink, so they try to open it and take a swallow. When the bottle turns out to be nail polish remover instead of juice, or lotion instead of yogurt, serious injuries can occur.” McAdams says in a news release about the study.

So, what household products are causing these injuries? The top four categories were nail care products (28.3%), hair care products (27%), skin care products (25%), and fragrance products (12.7%). Overall, nail polish remover was responsible for the highest number of emergency room visits (17.3% of all reported injuries). Additionally, more than half of the most serious reported injuries were caused by hair care goods (52.4%).

Researchers recommend that parents always store such items out of children’s reach, and preferably out of sight in general.

“Because these products are currently not required to have child-resistant packaging, it is important for parents to put them away immediately after use and store them safely – up, away, and out of sight – preferably in a cabinet or closet with a lock or a latch. These simple steps can prevent many injuries and trips to the emergency department.” comments McAdams.

This study is published in the Clinical Pediatrics medical journal.

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