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Fewer Children Injured From Swallowing Caustic Chemicals: Study
Date:12/17/2012

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Injuries to U.S. children from consuming caustic chemicals -- like those in some drain cleaners and cleaning products -- have dropped sharply, a new report finds.

However, while efforts to improve the safety of household cleaners seem to be paying off, hundreds of children are still injured each year, and their care costs millions of dollars, the researchers added.

"The legislation that's been enacted has been successful, and we've definitely seen a decrease in the number of injuries that occur, particularly the ones that require admission. But there's still a significant economic and hospital burden," said report co-author Dr. Matthew Brigger, chief of pediatric otolaryngology at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.

Caustic chemicals give scrubbing power to a variety of household products, such as certain kitchen cleaners, drain cleaners, oven cleaners, toilet-bowl cleaners and powdered dishwasher detergent. They're also found in hair-relaxing products.

The problem is that the chemicals are so powerful that they can cause injuries similar to burns in children who consume them, said Dr. Shan Yin, medical director of the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center.

Decades ago, children were often injured by lye, a caustic chemical used to make soap. The federal government required labeling on caustic products in 1927, and in 1970 it required childproof containers and better labeling.

The authors of the report launched their research because there's been little recent information about the poisoning of kids with caustic chemicals, Brigger said. Studies from decades ago put the number of poisonings at 5,000 to 15,000 a year, he said.

The researchers looked at a 2009 federal database of hospital treatments of children. They estimated that 807 children were treated for injuries from caustic chemicals. Almost 60 perc
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