Parents take note - Hand sanitizers may do more harm than good, warn scientists who found that these alcohol-based, scented products may tempt young kids to swallow the substance - leading to serious consequences such as abdominal pains, nausea and even coma.
Researchers from US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified serious consequences, including apnoea, acidosis and coma in young children who swallowed alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
To characterise paediatric alcohol hand sanitizer exposures in the US, data reported by poison centres among children aged 12 years during 2011 to 2014 were analysed. Hand sanitizer exposures were defined as a poison centre call reporting an exposure to either alcohol hand sanitizer or a non alcohol sanitizer product.
Calls reporting co-exposures to other agents were excluded to minimise confounding effects.
The study found that a majority of intentional exposures to alcohol hand sanitizers occurred in children aged 6-12 years.
During 2011-2014, a total of 70,669 hand sanitiser exposures in children aged 12 years were reported, of which 65,293 were 92 per cent exposures and 5,376 were 8 per cent non-alcohol exposures.
This data also indicates that, among older children, exposures occur less frequently during the summer months.
The reason for this seasonal trend is unknown but might be associated with the flu season or more ready access to hand sanitizers during the school year, researchers said.
The recommendations provided by the researchers included hand washing with soap and water and increasing awareness of the potential dangers associated with intentional or unintentional ingestion of alcohol hand sanitizers.
''Caregivers and health care providers need to be aware of the potential risks and dangers associated with improper use of hand sanitizer products among children and the need to use proper safety precautions to protect children,'' researchers said.