Kindergartener consumes hand sanitizer, hospitalized with .23 blood alcohol level

A kindergarten student consumed a formidable amount of hand sanitizer on her second day of class and wound up in a children’s hospital with an alarming .23 blood alcohol level in Moon County, Pa.

CBS News in Pittsburgh reports the unidentified girl showed up for class at Moon Area’s J.H. Brooks Elementary School with her school supplies in place, including a bottle of hand cleaner. Hours later, she collapsed in the lunchroom. Her mother was notified there was a problem and the child was rushed to a hospital.

“My daughter had consumed half of that bottle,” the distraught mom told CBS. “She consumed 6 ounces of 70% alcohol.”

Hand sanitizers can contain 70% ethanol, which is 140 proof in terms of alcohol. According to the girl’s mom, no one initially knew what was happening, including a medic.

“She was completely out of it. I tried to wake her and she opened her eyes briefly and she looked at me, but it was almost as if she looked straight through me,” the mom said.

The girl began to cry and laid back down, according to her mom, who has two other young children.

“I was very scared,” the mother said.

It wasn’t until the child regained consciousness the school realized she’d seemingly consumed her hand sanitizer. The girl recovered, but her mother worries about long-term prognosis. She wants other parents to be aware of what she experienced.

School Superintendent Barry Balaski said students are permitted to keep hand sanitizer in their desks or backpacks, though it’s not required and parents can request that their children not have it. District schools also provide hand-washing stations.

Pittsburgh Poison Center head Dr. Michael Lynch says the past 18 months have seen an uptick of more than 50% in hand sanitizer exposure cases, mostly with children in kindergarten or younger. Roughly 6% of those cases resulted in hospital visits.

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