Unintentional Poisoning is a Major Concern for Young Children

Unintentional Poisoning is a Major Concern for Young Children

Young children do not have a proper sense of safe or harmful substances. They can be easily drawn to substances that are toxic or poisonous with little regard for their safety. To prevent unintentional poisoning and personal injuries that require an Illinois personal injury lawyer, it is critical that parents, relatives, teachers and caregivers take proper precautions to keep young children away from harmful substances.

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Unintentional Poisoning

Poisoning Causes and Statistics

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), it’s estimated that approximately 85,000 children under the age of five are unintentionally poisoned every year in the United States. This alarming statistic also shows that more than 75 percent of all of those poisonings occur in the home while a parent or caregiver is present. Most injuries are caused by products that fall into three categories: over-the-counter medications; prescription medications; and cleaning supplies. According to the CPSC, the major culprits are:

  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen
  • Sleeping pills and analgesics
  • Narcotic medications and cough syrups
  • Blood pressure medicine
  • Anti-depressants
  • Bleach
  • Liquid laundry packets

Pain medications are the single most frequent cause of pediatric fatalities reported to Poison Control Centers around the country. According to National Poison Control Center statistics, one poison exposure is reported to a poison control center every 15 seconds. Within the general population, there are 6.7 poison exposures per 1000 adults, and 42.6poison exposures in children younger than 6 years per 1000 children.

Studies show that young children (younger than 6 years old) comprise a disproportionate percentage of poisoning cases. Peak poisoning frequency occurs in children who are one-year and two-years old, with 8,327 exposures per 1,000 one-year children, and 8,085 exposures per 1000 two-year old children. Children younger than 6 years comprise nearly half of all poison exposures (48 percent), followed by adults (38 percent), then teens (7 percent). In children younger than 6 years, 99 percent of poison exposures are unintentional, compared to 61 percent in adults and 37 percent in teens. With such a tragic number of unintentional poisonings being reported in children younger than 6 years old, Illinois parents need advice from an Illinois personal injury lawyer who understands personal injury rights.


Unintentional poisonings that occur from over-the-counter or prescription medications can cause serious injuries, even death. Dosages that are safe for adults can be lethal for young children. These incidents most often occur because medications are left in an area where a child can access them like a handbag, nightstand drawer, or kitchen or bathroom drawer or cabinet. Unintentional poisonings by medications are frequent in the home, even when a child is being cared for by a loving parent, relative or regular caregiver. Although parents are more familiar with the tendencies of their own children to explore and put things in their mouths, children under age five are inquisitive by nature and it’s impossible to keep an eye on them every minute. When unintentional poisonings occur in Illinois, an Illinois personal injury lawyer can provide legal advice on rights for injuries and wrongful deaths.

Cleaning Products

Newer cleaning products that offer clever packaging and more efficiency have caused an increasing number of unintentional poisonings for young children in the U.S. over the past few years. Laundry detergent packets which often resemble small packets of candy to a young child have been responsible for an alarming number of injuries and deaths. These packets are often vividly colored and small enough to fit entirely inside a small child’s mouth. Tragically, numerous deaths have been linked to the ingestion of these laundry packets and other common cleaning products used around the home. Small amounts of household cleaning products that contain bleach or ammonia can be toxic. When ingested, they can cause intense vomiting, throat and stomach burns, intestinal bleeding, and seizures. Even when ingested in small amounts, they can be lethal to a young child.

The National Poison Data System (NPDS) compiles data annually from a population of approximately 300 million people served by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. In 2011, over two million toxic exposures were reported in the United States and 49 percent of those occurred in children five-years-old or younger. The exposure to household cleaning products comprised 100,000 (9 percent) of the cases reported in young children. Exposure to household bleaches were particularly common. Other caustic substances that were frequently involved in unintentional poisonings included: cosmetic products; hair products and sprays; laundry detergents; automatic dishwasher agents; swimming pool products and cleaners; and oven and toilet bowl cleaners. Although unintentional poisoning cases in young children are not recorded by location, they occur frequently around the country. In Illinois cases, an Illinois personal injury lawyer can provide legal assistance for personal injuries.