Poison center has online resource

CHAMPAIGN — Uh oh ... your kid just ate some diaper rash ointment.

How toxic is that stuff?

Grandparents who grew up before computers were around may well reach for the phone for answers.

Parents who came of age with the Internet are probably going to go searching online, or at least that's the trend the Illinois Poison Control Center has been seeing, said Dr. Mike Wahl, its medical director.

The problem is, online information isn't always right.

The poison center has seen a 6 percent dip over the last year or two in calls from homes in connection with pediatric poisonings, yet emergency room poisoning visits for all ages have increased by 70 percent over the last decade, Wahl said.

So some people get information online, it's not always right, and they wind up at the hospital, he added.

The poison center wants parents and grandparents searching online to have the right answers fast, he said, so it's launched a new resource for when kids get a mouthful of crayons, soap, sunscreen, cosmetics and other household substances.

It's called "My Kid Ate," and it's available at http://illinoispoisoncenter.org/my-child-ate.

The poison center says this resource includes a list of the most common and least-toxic substances kids put into their mouths.

All entries include information such as how toxic the substance is, what the symptoms of overdose may be and when to be concerned and call for help. All entries were written by poison center toxicology experts.

With the substances on "My Child Ate," Wahl said, a small amount ingested — plus no symptoms — generally means the child is going to be fine.

However, all the information has a disclaimer: It's intended for small, unintended ingestions of a mouthful only with no symptoms. If that's not the case, or anyone unsure of what was eaten or how much is advised to call the poison center immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

All calls are free and confidential, Wahl said. The poison center is staffed 24 hours.

Whether you use "My Child Ate" or call first, "either way is fine," Wahl said. "We just want the consumer to be safe."

The holiday season typically brings more food poisoning calls and some extra hazards for kids, Wahl said.

Two to watch out for: Kids like to try eating holiday ornaments and small button batteries, he said.

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