Health Buzz: Teens Getting Drunk on Hand Sanitizer

Dangerous games your kids should avoid; signs your child could have autism

Hand Sanitizer

Los Angeles Teens Getting Drunk on Hand Sanitizer

Teens are getting drunk on hand sanitizer. Over the past few months, six teenagers have shown up in Los Angeles area emergency rooms with alcohol poisoning after drinking the cheap, easily accessible product. Hand sanitizers contain 62 percent ethyl alcohol and can make a 120-proof liquid. Some of the teens used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, creating a drink similar to a shot of hard liquor. "All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager," Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times. "There is no question that it is dangerous." Health experts recommend that parents purchase the foam version of hand sanitizer, since it's harder to extract the alcohol, potentially dissuading teens from drinking it.

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  • The 'Choking Game' and Other Dangerous Games Your Kids Should Avoid

    A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but a spoonful of cinnamon … that's an entirely different story.

    It sounds like something you'd see on the television show Iron Chef, only the seemingly innocent "cinnamon challenge" poses an alarming number of risks for kids and teens who take it on. (The goal: to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon without washing it down with water.) Over the past few months, emergency rooms and poison control centers throughout the country have been flooded with calls from panicked parents and concerned school nurses about this prevalent trend.

    But cinnamon isn't the only ingredient that kids are challenging. Milk, marshmallows, water, and even oxygen (rather, lack thereof) can stimulate kids' competitive edge. More than 6 percent of eighth graders have participated in the extremely dangerous "choking game," which involves cutting off oxygen intake by strangling to produce a light-headed, fuzzy feeling, finds a new study published in Pediatrics by the Oregon Health Authority and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 1995 and 2007, approximately 82 kids ages six to 19 died after playing the choking game, according to the study. [Read more: The 'Choking Game' and Other Dangerous Games Your Kids Should Avoid]

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    • Signs Your Child Could Have Autism

      With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that one in every 88 children has autism—up from one in 156 in 2002—you might be wondering how to recognize the signs and symptoms of the developmental disorder.

      While it's not clear what's driving the uptick in prevalence, and the precise causes of autism are still unknown, experts are calling for earlier diagnosis. "We have to get this down to 18 months of age to truly have the greatest impact," says Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC. Doctors have gotten better at identifying autism symptoms in younger children—four is the average age of diagnosis—but "four years old is still too late," he says. Frieden stresses that the earlier a child is identified with autism, the more likely it is that behavioral intervention will make the disability more manageable. Parents may be able to spot symptoms of autism before a child's first birthday, says Coleen Boyle, who heads up the CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. "Parents know their child best, but if they do have concerns, the important thing is not to wait [to seek help]," she says. Susan Hyman, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics subcommittee on autism, strongly recommends having children screened by a child development specialist at 18, 24, and 30 months. [Read more: Signs Your Child Could Have Autism]

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