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Pediatric Ocular Exposure to Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers on the Rise

TUESDAY, Jan. 26, 2021 -- From April to August 2020, there was an increase in unintentional ocular exposure to alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHS) among children compared with 2019, according to a study published online Jan. 21 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Gilles C. Martin, M.D., from the Rothschild Foundation Hospital in Paris, and colleagues describe the epidemiologic trend of pediatric eye exposures to ABHS in a retrospective case series conducted from April 1 to Aug. 24, 2020. Cases of ocular exposure to chemical agents during the study period were reviewed, and cases of exposure to ABHS were included. The number of eye exposures to ABHS was compared between April to August 2020 and April to August 2019.

The researchers identified more than seven times more pediatric cases of ABHS eye exposures reported in April to August 2020 compared with 2019 (9.9 percent of pediatric eye exposures in 2020 versus 1.3 percent in 2019). In 2020, there was an increase in the number of cases occurring in public places (from 16.4 percent in May to 52.4 percent in August). During the same period, there was an increase in admissions to the eye hospital for ABHS exposure (16 children in 2020 versus one child in 2019).

"Caution in positioning the dispensers in public places, in addition to informative illustrations emphasizing the risk of unintentional exposures in children, are required in all countries to prevent further severe ocular injury," the authors write.

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