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Iron poisoning

Intro

Call your doctor, local poison control center, or go directly to the closest hospital’s emergency department if you suspect your child has swallowed iron-containing vitamins, even if your child shows no symptoms. Bring the container with you.

If you find your child among iron pills or pill containers, or your child tells you he or she swallowed pills, take the child to a hospital's emergency department.

Self-Care at Home

If you suspect your child has accidentally swallowed iron tablets, call your doctor or poison control center immediately. You can locate your regional poison control center phone number before an emergency by checking the Web site of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

  • Do not attempt to induce vomiting, either manually or with syrup of ipecac. This will make it more difficult to assess whether your child is truly iron toxic.
  • Bring the medicine containers along with you to the hospital.

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Prevention
  • Keep medications where children cannot get to them.
  • Childproof caps are not a guarantee that children are safe.
  • Educate your children that unknown pills are not candy and can be harmful.
Outlook

Full recovery is likely for children (or adults) who show no symptoms for at least 6 hours after swallowing pills. Those with symptoms may be ill and require more aggressive treatment.

  • Iron poisoning can progress through several stages. A late, or hepatic stage, develops 2-5 days after ingestion. The person may have elevated liver enzymes, possibly ultimately resulting in liver failure.
  • Another late stage involves gastrointestinal scarring. Some 4-6 weeks after ingestion, the final stage manifests with early satiety (fullness after eating) or nausea from GI scarring and obstruction.

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