Georgia – Poison control centers from across the US have been receiving increasing reports of children and teenagers ingesting alcohol-based hand sanitizers, both unintentionally and intentionally.

According to a new analysis conducted by the Georgia Poison Center, since 2010, poison control centers from the United States have received almost a 400% increase in calls regarding to children younger than 12 who had consumed hand sanitizers. About 3,266 hand sanitizer cases related to young children were reported in 2010. By 2014, the number had increased to 16,117 cases.

“Kids are getting into these products more frequently, and unfortunately, there’s a percentage of them going to the emergency room,” said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the center’s director, to CNN.

Credit: IWK Foundation

The amount of alcohol found in hand sanitizers ranges between 45% to 95%. Even by ingesting small amounts, it can result in alcohol poisoning. According to Lopez, wine and beer have around 12% and 5% of alcohol. Some effects of alcohol poisoning may include confusion, vomiting and drowsiness, and in severe cases, it can even cause a child to stop breathing.

Additionally, Lopez recommends parents and teachers to keep hand sanitizers out of the children’s reach, as many young kids may do it arbitrarily because they enjoy the ‘buzz’, or just playing with friends. He also said that non alcohol based products or sanitizing wipes are a better choice.

“A kid is not thinking this is bad for them. A lot of the more attractive [hand sanitizers] are the ones that are scented. There are strawberry, grape, orange-flavored hand sanitizers that are very appealing to kids,” Lopez explained.

As reported by CNN, a 6-year old named Nhaijah Russell, consumed about four pumps-worth of hand sanitizer, which caused her to become severely drunk. The girl, who fortunately survived, claimed she tried it because it tasted like strawberries. When she got to the hospital, the girl couldn’t walk properly and slurred her words. The young kid was reported to have a 0.179 of blood alcohol level, which is twice as high as what’s considered an adult to be drunk.

Source: Georgia Poison Center