A Child’s Overdose on Fever Medication – A Parent’s Terrifying Experience

As parents we all try our best to keep our kids safe from any danger that lurks in the shadows. We warn our kids not to take candy from strangers and to look both ways when crossing the street. But sometimes we fail to see the obvious that is right in front of us. Most of us with our first child, baby proof the entire house and make sure it is safe for our precious baby. After a few years, we soon begin to relax and let things slide. Recently, we received a letter from a parent attached to my son’s weekly preschool newsletter. It was a real eye-opener, so I asked the school for permission to share this with the SuperMommy readers.


Dear Parents,

As a mother of a three year old, I wanted to share a terrifying experience to warn and remind everyone that we can never be careful enough with our kids.

A few weeks ago, in a matter of seconds, our daughter drank almost a full bottle of children’s paracetamol. Unfortunately, the medicine we get here from the doctor’s offices are not child proofed, and paracetamol specifically is pink –our daughter’s favourite colour –and tastes like strawberry.

While we are always extremely careful to stow medicine away in a hard to reach place, this was one time that we had mistakenly placed the bottle on the top shelf inside a bathroom mirror cabinet (after having given her a late night dose before Christmas). Our daughter had been searching for something behind the mirror when she saw the pink bottle and decided it was a good idea to drink some.

Thank God, having heard water running in the bathroom sink, my husband walked in to see our daughter standing on top of the toilet, bottle to her mouth, licking out the last of the sweet tasting drops. We rushed to KK Hospital where they gave her charcoal to drink to bond with the poison and dilute the blood (they are not able to pump the stomach of children under five), followed by antidotes for paracetamol through an IV.

As we awaited her initial blood results and toxicity report, the doctor told us that we have to prepare ourselves for the worst – organ failure, and I cannot even write the rest. It was the toughest two hours of our lives.

Fortunately, having gotten her to the hospital within an hour of ingestion, meant that the charcoal and antidotes were effective and the doctors were able to save our daughter’s life. We were admitted to the hospital for four days to monitor her liver function, as liver damage from an overdose tends to be delayed by up to a week. We were out of the “red zone” after 4 days and were in the “green zone” only after 6 days.

We thought we were very careful parents putting the medicine in an unreachable place but our active and determined daughter found a way to get to the medicine. We now have all our medicine locked up.

Please take a few minutes to go through all medicine and other poisonous items like cleaning supplies in your home. Kids are simply too creative and can even figure out how to undo childproof things we put on cupboard doors. To use double child-proofing may save your child’s life.

It is also important to remember when you have guests visiting that they may have their medicine in their purses or suitcases. Be extra cautious and remind your guests not to have any vitamins or medicines lying around or inaccessible places. Similarly, if you have helpers, they may keep medicine in their rooms. And as a final note, remember that not everyone’s house that you visit has children around the same age, and may not have their homes childproofed for poisonous items.

Kindly share my story with as many parents as you can as it may save a child’s life. We can never be careful enough.

God bless all our children.

A lucky mother whose daughter survived medicine overdose.

I don’t know who this mother is, but I want to thank her for sharing her story with us. It really puts things into perspective – I never realized that drinking one small bottle of paracetamol could prove to be so life threatening. At least now I know what to do (god forbid) if something like this happened in my own house.

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