According to a new study, knowledge of potentially toxic household substances among primary caregivers for young children is alarmingly poor. The results show that less than one-third of primary caregivers for children under the age of six could correctly estimate the toxicity of household poisons.
Led by Rika N. O’Malley, M.D of the Albert Einstein Medical Center, the study involved screening primary caregivers of young children who visited emergency departments, and asked participants to identify toxic items from a list of common household products.
“Young children are at risk of household chemical ingestion and their caretakers often do not have good understanding how toxic those chemicals are,” says O’Malley. “Parental education needs to be focused more on younger caretakers with more children.”
However, the study did identify a number of factors that increased the likelihood of knowledge of household poisons. These include: more education, responsibility for fewer children and an age greater than twenty-three years.
The research provides practical information about poison prevention. The authors believe that education from primary care physicians can target at-risk populations for poison prevention and education.
The study is being presented at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine’s 2008 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on May 30, 2008. The presentation is entitled “Caregivers of Young Children Do Not Have Basic Knowledge or Familiarity with Potentially Toxic Household Products.” Abstracts of the papers presented are published in Vol. 15, No. 5, Supplement 1, May 2008 of the official journal of the SAEM, Academic Emergency Medicine.
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