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Accidental Alcohol Poisoning on the Rise Among Children

A doctoral dissertation claims that increasing numbers of underage children end up in hospital for accidental poisoning. Additionally, while the number of poisoning cases caused by other substances has declined, there are more cases of alcohol poisoning among children in Finland than in other western countries.

Symbolikuva nuorista ja alkoholista, ihmishahmoja, viinilasi.
Image: YLE Uuutiset grafiikka

In decades past, Finns were warned repeatedly of the dangers of substances such as lye.

Education, child-proof packaging and the operations of poison control centres and improved care have in practice reduced the number of child deaths caused by the ingestion of poisonous substances.

However the danger of accidental poisoning still lurks. Research in a doctoral thesis defended by Juho Kivistö of Tampere University Hospital shows that even now, about two or three children daily will end up in hospital due to poisoning. The worst cases are those caused by parents’ carelessness or lack of understanding.

“In the case of small children it's that they encounter many new things. It could be toxic mushrooms, or poison berries, or Granny’s medicine,” explained doctoral research candidate Juho Kivistö.

Kivistö is concerned about the 35 years of research that show a doubling of the numbers of children and youths suffering from alcohol poisoning. Kivistö has seen the figures come to life during his work at the children’s ward of the Tampere University Hospital.

“The alcohol question is very worrying. Of the 10 – 15 year olds coming here, two-thirds concern alcohol ingestion. In recent years the development has been most disturbing and the curve has been rising,” he added.

Kivistö says that the problem is that Finland has condoned the use of alcohol by underage children.

“Parents simply have to wake up to the fact that alcohol is not a suitable substance for anyone under the age of 18,” he declared.

Sources: YLE

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