Some 150 children each year take an overdose of vitamin pills, which are often marketed with bright colours and fruity tastes, according to the Poison Control Line at Bispebjerg Hospital.
“We have a lot of parents who call us because little Peter has eaten too many vitamin pills. Fortunately we are mostly able to tell them to relax,” says Poison Control Line Consultant Kim Dalhoff MD.
The tendency is also one that hospitals have experienced, with several children each month arriving for monitoring, iron content tests and to have their stomachs pumped.
The main problem appears to be the iron in vitamin pills, too much of which can give stomach pains, blood in vomit and in rare cases damage to the liver and kidneys.
“We have to admit children several times a month for observation and to test them for iron. Luckily we seldom see serious poisoning,” says Dalhoff, adding that five vitamin pills are not a serious problem, but if the child has eaten 20, 30 or more, parents must be wary.
One way of avoiding the problem is to put vitamin pills out of the reach of children.
“Many parents have their vitamin pills in the kitchen or on the kitchen table – probably to remember them. Bu with small children in the house, that is not a good place,” says Prof. Steffen Husby of the H.C. Andersen Paediatric Hospital.
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Edited by Julian Isherwood