The number of children being injured through liquitab ingestion in Glasgow and Clyde has plummeted since the launch of a major awareness campaign by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) in 2013.
In a bid to tackle the increasing number of children who were being harmed by liquitabs which are used in washing machines and dish washers, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde launched an awareness campaign – Not for play...keep them away - in August 2013.
During just one year, (2010/2011) the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill A & E treated 18 children as a result of a liquitab ingestion and nine children had to be admitted for treatment. Since the launch of the campaign in August 2013 no child from the Glasgow and Clyde area has had to be admitted into hospital as a result of liquitab ingestion.
As part of the campaign 16,000 cupboard catch packs were provided by Health Visiting teams to families with a baby aged 12 to 16 weeks in the Glasgow and Clyde area. In addition to helping to raise awareness of the dangers of liquitabs, the packs contained easy to follow instructions on how to keep all household cleaning products securely stored away from children.
Liquitabs contain alkaline chemicals which can cause an immediate chemical burn and if ingested can cause breathing problems as the airway starts to swell rapidly. Getting children affected to hospital as quickly as possible is imperative because if the airway was to close over completely, it could have potentially fatal consequences.
Consultant Haytham Kubba from Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children explained the reasoning behind ‘Not for play...keep them away’.
Mr Kubba said: “This is an important campaign in tackling the rising numbers of children who were being brought into our hospital with extremely serious injuries caused by liquitabs.
“The chemicals contained in liquitabs are brightly coloured, attractive to children and extremely concentrated meaning they pose a huge risk to children if they have access to them. We were seeing rising numbers of cases involving young children, usually toddlers, who had ingested liquitab detergents after putting them in their mouth and possibly mistaking them for sweets. This would often cause damage to the windpipe, mouth and skin – and in some cases, children would require surgery and a lengthy hospital stay.
“Since the launch of this campaign we have not had to admit a single child from NHSGGC due to ingesting a liquitab. The campaign managed to reach around 16,000 families directly which I believe has had a real impact on the decline in cases we see.”
Lesley Nish, NHSGCC Health Improvement Senior, said: “We worked with parents and our partners to identify the best way to raise awareness of the dangers associated with liquitabs and other household cleaning products.
“Parents suggested information had to coincide with the child’s development and the practical and easy solution was a cupboard catch. Health Visiting teams asked families to attach the cupboard catch to the cupboard where they store liquitabs and other cleaning products and to keep these products away from children.
“We are delighted that this campaign appears to have been so successful with no child from the Glasgow and Clyde area having to be admitted into hospital due to liquitab ingestion.
“The campaign is continuing and families will continue to receive the packs and information from their health visiting team.”
The cupboard catch scheme, ‘Not for play... keep them away’, was also backed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) which highlighted concern at the attractiveness of some of these liquitabs which young children can mistake for jelly-like sweets.
Elizabeth Lumsden, RoSPA’s community safety manager in Scotland, said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the campaign. It has been extremely successful in meeting all of the objectives, including changing behaviour, gathering further data, and reducing injuries in a helpful, useful and cost beneficial way.
“We set out to raise awareness of the dangers of liquitabs and interviews carried out nine months after the launch of the campaign found a 10 per cent increase in awareness in comparison to the first month of the campaign.
“Unfortunately, RoSPA is aware of cases involving young children who have been injured after biting into or placing colourful liquitab detergents in their mouths, after mistaking them for sweets, and the consequences can be life threatening, which is why we wanted to help parents to recognise the dangers liquitabs pose to children.”
Notes to Editors
The cupboard catches are given to households with a baby at 12-16 weeks by Health Visiting teams in NHSGGC.
The catches are accompanied by a leaflet explaining how the catch works and how it should be fitted.
For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]