Kids and hand sanitizer: What parents need to know

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In today’s world of heightened concerns over the spread of germs combined with our need for speed and convenience—alcohol-based hand sanitizers seem like the perfect solution! Alcohol has been used for its antiseptic properties since the 1300s, and is known to kill 99.9 percent of all bacteria. These days, it is packaged in many different sizes: from large dispensers, commonly seen in hospitals or office buildings, to pocket-sized containers easy enough to throw into a purse, diaper bag or gym bag to sanitize on the go. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are now a classroom or office staple. It’s a quick, convenient way to kill germs, and reduce the spread of nasty winter colds when there is limited access to soap and water.

Most of the products on the market today contain between 60 and 95 percent ethyl or isopropyl alcohol by volume, and in many cases, are combined with fragrances that leave a pleasant scent behind. Unfortunately, these fragrances can make them very attractive to curious youngsters—as evidenced by a new study that was recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – and ingestion can lead to serious adverse effects.

The study found that during a four year span between 2011 and 2014, more…

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