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Why Are Younger Children at Higher Risk for Poison Exposure Than Adults?

Charlotte Hendricks, PhD

April 20, 2020

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Question

Why are younger children at higher risk for poison exposure than adults?

Answer

Young children are at higher risk than older children or adults. If you look at all of the poison exposures that are reported each year, almost half of them are to children under age six. Infants and toddlers are at the highest risk. One reason is that children explore by touch and taste. If they see it, they want to pick it up and put it in their mouth to see what it is. Their bodies are also developing, so they have a higher metabolism. If you look at how little their body is and how much they eat or drink, they are actually eating and drinking more and breathing in more air in proportion to their body size than an adult does. With this and their faster metabolic rates, their bodies are less capable of handling chemicals to which they're exposed.

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Avoiding Exposure to Hazardous Materials in ECE Settings, in partnership with Region 9 Head Start Association, by Charlotte Hendricks, PhD.


charlotte hendricks

Charlotte Hendricks, PhD

Dr. Charlotte Hendricks has promoted health education for young children, families, and teachers for over 30 years and pioneered curriculum development and evaluation for preschool health education. Nationally recognized as a leader in her field, her career has spanned public health, higher education, Head Start, and research. She often presents to early childhood programs and at state and national conferences, delivering high energy presentations to illustrate practical and cost-effective approaches to best practice, national standards, and issues facing today’s early childhood staff and families.

Charlotte served as Editor for Healthy CHILDCare magazine for 16 years and has published extensively, including HIP on Health®: Health Information for Caregivers and Families and Growing, Growing Strong: A Whole Health Curriculum for Young Children. Her latest book, Redleaf Quick Guide to Disaster Planning and Preparedness in Early Childhood and Schoolage Care Settings, exemplifies her ability to present essential information in an easy-to-follow format.


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