Young children put many things in their mouths. Older children may consume substances out of curiosity. It's common for children to swallow alcohol by accident. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning in children. This can result in serious illness and sometimes death.
Children’s bodies absorb alcohol fast. This can happen in less than 30 minutes. Alcohol affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). Symptoms can include confusion, vomiting, and seizures. The child may have trouble breathing and flushed (red) or pale skin. Alcohol reduces the gag reflex. This can cause choking. Alcohol may also cause low blood sugar in children. A coma can result from this low blood sugar or the alcohol itself.
A child may swallow alcohol when an alcoholic drink is left out by accident. But alcohol is also found in other liquids, such as:
Some cold medicines
Colognes and perfumes
Some cleaning fluids
Small amounts of alcohol can cause symptoms in young children. Even inhaling rubbing alcohol can make a child sick.
Children who have consumed alcohol need to be treated right away. Glucose may be given through an IV (intravenous) line. Sometimes the contents of the stomach are taken out by using a tube. Children are watched until they get better. Some children may need more care. If neglect is suspected, child protective services should be told.
Know which products in your home contain alcohol.
Keep all products with alcohol out of your child’s reach. Put them in locked cabinets. All products should be kept in their original, labeled containers.
Throw away unfinished alcoholic drinks. Don't leave them out on a table or counter.
Put all harmful products, including those containing alcohol, back into locked cabinets right after use.
Throw away used containers where your child can't get them.
Teach your child the dangers of tasting any substance without your approval.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provider, or as advised.
The National Poison Control Center phone number is 800-222-1222. Put this on speed dial on your phone. And also keep it posted in your home. Call Poison Control and
The name of the substance
How much is missing
How long ago it happened
The child’s age and weight
Whether the child is having any symptoms
Your phone number to stay in touch with you
Trouble breathing or slow, irregular breathing
Heavy bleeding or vomiting blood
Fainting or loss of consciousness
Rapid heart rate
Have the bottle, can, or container the child drank from available for the paramedics.
Call your child's healthcare provider right away if your child has any of these:
Alcohol on their breath
Inability to walk normally or think clearly