Local News

Poison Control Help A Phone Call Away

Posted November 12, 2003

— Every 30 seconds in the United States, a child swallows something they should not.

Doctors at WakeMed's Children's Emergency Department see at least one or two accidental ingestions a day. So what do you do if it happens to your child?

Many parents take steps to ensure their child's safety by babyproofing their home.

Amy Montanus, hired professionals to secure her home, which included adding latches on cabinets -- especially the ones under the sink.

"Just about everybody's home that I've been into has poisons underneath their sink," babyproofer Mitch Lyman said.

For years, parents of young children have also stocked up on syrup of ipecac.

Recently, the

American Academy of Pediatrics

warned its use is not a good idea for treating swallowed poisons.

WakeMed Emergency physician Dr. Olly Duckett agrees.

"It has never been proven to be effective," Duckett said. "It's kind of been thought that it is, but the truth of the matter is it can be dangerous."

Syrup of ipecac, which is used to induce vomiting, can be dangerous for several reasons. Vomiting a corrosive substance can do even more damage, if a child loses consciousness they could choke, and it could cause parents or caregivers to delay emergency care.

Experts said the first thing parents should do is call their Poison Control Center. Experts, who are available by phone around the clock, can advise how to treat the child or if emergency care is required.

"Usually [the Poison Control Center] will call us after they speak with the parents and let us know that the child will be coming in the emergency room," Duckett said.

The Montanus family does not have syrup of ipecac in their home, but they have the number for the Poison Control Center just in case.

In North Carolina, call the Carolinas Poison Control Center at (800) 848-6946. Calling the National Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222 connects callers to the nearest poison control center.

If a child is unconscious or has trouble breathing, call 911 immediately.

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