CDC Report Shows Older Kids May Be Intentionally Drinking Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer ingestion on the rise among children
Hand sanitizer ingestion on the rise among children

(HealthDay News) — A rising number of children are becoming ill from ingesting gel hand sanitizer, according to research published in the March 3 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC researchers tracked illnesses from 2011 to 2014 for children aged 12 and under. The investigators believe some children in the higher age range may be drinking sanitizer because of the product's high alcohol content.

"Older children (aged 6 to 12 years) were more likely to report intentional ingestion and to have adverse health effects and worse outcomes than were younger children, suggesting that older children might be deliberately misusing or abusing alcohol hand sanitizers," the authors write. "During 2011 to 2014, a total of 70,669 hand sanitizer exposures in children at or below 12 years of age were reported, including 65,293 alcohol exposures (92 percent)." Most of these exposures may have been accidental, with 91 percent occurring in children aged 5 and under. But about 6,181 incidents affected children aged 6 to 12, and these had much higher odds of being intentional ingestions.

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Compared to nonalcohol-based hand sanitizers, ingestion of alcohol sanitizers was associated with worse symptoms in children, according to the report. While vomiting and eye irritation were the most common symptoms, much more serious events were also recorded, including five cases of coma and three cases involving seizures.

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