What are the most frequent and serious causes of child poisoning?

One of the top causes of poisonings among children is access to household cleaning products.
One of the top causes of poisonings among children is access to household cleaning products. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Lauren Chadwick
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A new report from a French health agency highlighted the top causes of poisoning in children, which most commonly occurs in young kids.


The top three most frequent and serious causes of accidental poisonings in children in France were household cleaning products, human medications, and carbon monoxide, according to a new report.

France's National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (Anses) said that while most accidental poisonings are harmless, some can be serious or even fatal.

They outlined the top causes of accidental poisonings that led to a call to a poison control centre, a trip to the emergency room, or hospitalisation between 2014 and 2020.

Among cleaning products, laundry detergent was most often a cause of poisoning in children under 15, especially liquid detergent capsules.

Medicines such as ibuprofen, aspirin, paracetamol, antidepressants, and cardiovascular drugs caused the most frequent and serious poisonings in children under six, according to Anses.

Children are also vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning. The colourless and odourless gas can be made by appliances used for heating if they are not maintained or installed correctly.

Other serious causes of poisoning

In France, between 2014 and 2020 there were roughly 9,100 cases per year of children under six taken to the emergency department for poisoning and roughly 3,800 cases a year of children who were hospitalised.

The top cause of visits to the emergency room for children under six was due to contact with venom from stinging caterpillars, wasps, bees, hornets and other anthropods. This represented 30 per cent of trips to the emergency room for poisoning or some 2,800 per year.

The report also highlighted an increase in poisonings related to ingesting cannabis, especially in children under one.

Between 2014 and 2020, there were more than 250 hospitalisations a year for children under six due to ingesting cannabis. The drug was also the top cause of intensive care admission for poisoning in children under six.

The number of cannabis poisonings and the number of children treated in intensive care for them increased between 2014 and 2020, Anses found.

The agency recommended putting products out of reach of children, putting away medications, and proper use of heating appliances.

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