GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It happens more often than you might think: Toddlers and young children ending up drunk and in the emergency room after getting into adults’ drinks.
But there are simple ways to avoid that and other holiday injuries.
The emergency room at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids sees thousands of kids each year. Some of those visits are from youngsters barely able to walk who are drunk.
“We see people throw holiday parties and maybe not be so great about picking up the half-drank glasses of wine or the beer bottles that have been drank down to the bottom,” Dr. Erica Michiels, the hospital’s associate medical director, said.
“The child is just acting maybe a little sleepy or at bed time a little more stumbly than they usually are, but as we know, lots to toddlers haven’t really mastered walking yet and so it doesn’t necessarily click with the parents that there’s a problem,” she continued.
Michiels says toddlers’ bodies process alcohol much differently than adults, so the impact of even a small of amount could cause a seizure.
“What happens is their blood sugar drops to a very low number — like as low as 10 or 20 — and the blood sugar being that low is actually what then causes the seizure,” Michiels said.
Preventing the problem can be as simple as keeping those unfinished wine glasses and beer bottles out of reach of toddlers.
And during the holiday season, doctors say, it’s also smart to apply that rule to decorations.
“We want to make sure our candles aren’t in arm’s reach of the kids. We want to make sure that our decorations don’t have any broken edges or any pieces of glass,” Jennifer Hoekstra, the injury prevention coordinator at DeVos Children’s Hospital, listed.
It’s also important to make sure toys and gifts are age-appropriate.
“You really want to keep an eye on the electronics that are made for the teenagers and make sure that the 2-and 3-year-olds aren’t getting a hold of them,” Hoeksta said.
Doctors also say flameless electric candles are a huge problem. If ingested, the coin-size button batteries in those can burn a hole in a child’s esophagus.