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Ethyl Alcohol (Ethanol)–Containing Cologne, Perfume, and After-shave Ingestions in Children

Deborah L. Scherger, RN; Kathleen M. Wruk, RN; Kenneth W. Kulig, MD; Barry H. Rumack, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1988;142(6):630-632. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150060064032.
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• Colognes, perfumes, and after-shaves containing ethyl alcohol (ethanol) are frequently ingested by children. These products may contain from 50% to 99% ethanol. To determine if ingestion of colognes, perfumes, or after-shaves by children results in serious ethanol toxic reactions, this retrospective study was performed. One hundred twenty-three cases of children younger than 6 years old who ingested these products were reviewed. The cases were arbitrarily divided into three groups based on the amount ingested by history. Group 1 included children in whom less than 30 mL was ingested; group 2, 30 to 60 mL was ingested; and group 3, more than 60 to 105 mL was ingested. Of the 102 patients in group 1, no children experienced symptoms or signs. One of 17 children in group 2 was described by parents as sleepy but was asymptomatic one hour later. Two of four children in group 3 behaved as if intoxicated, yet blood ethanol levels were undetectable within 2½ hours after ingestion. Based on our study, asymptomatic children who ingested by history less than 105 mL of a cologne, perfume, or after-shave and remain asymptomatic can be safely watched at home. All children with symptoms of intoxication need health care facility referral.

(AJDC 1988;142:630-632)

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