Friday, August 30, 2013

Iron-Fortified Vitamin Overdose

Asalamu Alaykom,

I'm going to ask each and every one of you to do something that I've never asked from you.  When you're done reading this post, please share it somehow.  Post it somewhere.  Link to it.  Mention it in conversation.  We need to get the word out of a hidden danger we're keeping in our cupboards.

Yesterday, my very smart and increasingly independent eight-year-old son ate vitamins like they were candy.  They looked like candy with their bright colors and fun shapes.  They tasted like candy with all their artificial sweeteners.  Yet, each one contained 18% of his daily iron.  That is NOT candy and that is the dangerous part.

I will stop the suspense and tell you that he's OK.  Alhumdullilah.  Thanks be to God.

I was on my way home from work when he called me.  See, because he's got a mobile phone now I felt that we were connected.  We had talked three times.  Call number four was to tell me that he had diarrhea.

I racked my brain wondering what had made him sick.  Virus?  Nobody has been sick at the house.  Something he ate?  We had bought a new yogurt brand.  It's hot so, could it be dehydration?

I started asking him questions once I got home.  He didn't want to tell me what he had done.  He knew he'd done something wrong.  That's the funny thing about kids this age; they know AFTER the fact and not before.  They're impulsive and he admitted that he'd eaten vitamins.

"How many?"

I went right away to the kitchen and the bottle of 150 vitamins.  Can you do the math?  What's 150 multiplied by .18?  That's how much iron was in that bottle when I bought it.

It hadn't been a full bottle the last time I looked.  It wasn't an empty bottle now. It was maybe a fourth full.

"How did you eat them?  In a bowl?  On the table?"

"In my hand."

So, I poured some out into his hand.

"This many?  Or more?"


Now, the whole time I'm going through this I'm not showing emotion because you can't.  You can't ask kids questions while angry or you won't get answers.  I poured again and again until he said, "Stop."

I had him dump out the contents of his hand onto the kitchen table and then I counted.  Twenty-one vitamins.  I asked him if he came back and ate more.  He had come back a second time and had eaten maybe four more.  So, we're up to 25.

I got on my reading glasses and read the warning.

There was a 1-800 number to call so I did.  Thank God for Magic Jack.  Remember, I'm in Egypt with limited Arabic and my kid has ingested an overdose of vitamins.

Oh, by the way, my brother-in-law's wedding was yesterday so we were on our own with this problem.  My husband was at the party reception location getting it ready.  It was up to me.

"Sorry, but our connection isn't that good," says the Customer Rep.

"That's because I'm calling from Egypt through the computer," I explain.  "This is the best it's going to get."

He patches me through a Poison Control Center.  That transfer takes time so I get to lecture my boy while it's happening.  I didn't yell.  I was calm.  I knew that there was a chance I would have to run him to the hospital.

"Dude, you realize that I'm waiting for Poison Control to talk with me, right?  Because a vitamin is like a medicine.  You aren't supposed to take a handful.  You knew that."

"I didn't know they would be like poison."

"But you knew that you can only get them from me.  I've never had you get one yourself.  And when I give you a vitamin, it's only one."

"I know.  I'm sorry."

"I'm not going to punish you because I am glad that you told me the truth.  If you hadn't told me the truth, then I couldn't have helped you.  Besides, your body is punishing you enough."

"My stomach hurts."

"I bet it does."

This is a verbal kid.  This is a smart kid.  He could tell me what he had done.  What about younger children?  You would not know what they had done or how many they had taken.

I then talked with Poison Control and I sounded like the worst mom.  No, I didn't know how much my son weighed.  Didn't.  Nope.  Not in pounds or even in kilos.  And guess what?  That's kind of crucial.  So, one of my DON'T BE STUPID LIKE ME pieces of advice is:  Know your child's weight at all times.  When they need medical help, it's not a good time to be clueless.

Together, we figured out the possible range based on my comments.  Thank God my kid has put on weight over the summer.  The bigger the kid, the less the danger.  I really shudder to think what if he'd done this when he was a skinny little six-year-old with a full bottle.

Based on our calculations, my son would have needed to eat 90 of the vitamins in order to warrant an emergency room visit.  I don't believe he could have eaten that many as his hand could only hold 20.  Even if he took two handfuls, that would be 40.

The Poison Control Center recommended hydrating and observation.  They will call back today to see how he's doing.  Inshahallah he'll be fine.  Three bouts of full blow-out diarrhea helped.

We missed the wedding.  We couldn't go early on with my kid not feeling well.  We couldn't go later due to the 9 PM curfew.  At some point, when the shock started to wear off, I fell asleep on the couch from all the stress.


that was traumatic.

After a hard day at work, with lots on my mind about school and the wedding party, I really didn't need another scare with my son.  It was a very poorly timed deja vue.  No, this isn't the first time my son has ingested something that could have killed him.  Go ahead and click that link.  You'll be shocked too.


Alhumdulillah.  Thanks be to God for everything.

Now, I want to remind you of your part in this story.  You've read what happened.  Do you honestly think that the risks of accidental iron-poisoning are worth keeping a bottle of children's iron-fortified vitamins in your home?

I'm deciding NO.  HELL NO!

I had taken measures.  I had these on a high shelf.  I made sure it had a child-proof safety cap.  I was the only one allowed to open it and give one to my son.  None of that worked.  He still overdosed!

You can decide whatever you want, but be an informed consumer.  You have a very enticing product which looks and tastes like candy sitting there in your kitchen.  Your child wants them and doesn't understand the implications of taking too many.  If your child takes too many, they will get sick.  Past a certain point, they will die.


It is so not worth it to me.  We do eat enough red meat and chicken in the week.  I don't think he's in danger of becoming anemic.  Here is more information on getting iron out of food instead of tablets.

It's a new day.  It's Friday.  I have the day off and I can spend it with my impetuous boy.   

I truly love children and have worked for many years to protect them and guide them.  I would be remiss if I did not share this experience with you.  Let my boy be the one who made the mistake so that you can take precautions at your home.  

Again,  please share this information somehow.  It needs to be known by as many moms and dads as possible.  In this way, we can help to save a tragedy from happening inshahallah.  God willing.


Fozia S said...

Alhamdulillah he's ok!!

Nur lindah said...

Assalamulaikum dear sister,

Alhamdulillah everything's ok.

I think children at this age are always feeling hungry. The same too for my girl when she was young. I had made a small drawer for her in and it I filled it with snacks, biscuits (whatever do children like but must be nutritious) and told her to take whatever she likes if I am not at home. So until now being a teenager she still have her snacks taken from that drawer.

Thankful Slave said...

Al hamdulil'Allah he is safe, may Allah Protect all our kids always.
I have shared the link on my blog.

We do not pay attention that our children are observing us and might mimic our gestures and take something that seems so inoffensive for them. Therefore, it is important we always share with them these kind of stories to educate them and remind them of the several dangers at home.

Was your son alone at home at that time?



Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Fozia,

Thank you. Yes, alhumdulillah.

Wa Alaykom Asalam Nur,

Good idea about the snacks. We do try to keep food he likes in the house. There were Coco Pops cereal that he can have as a sweet crunchy snack but he opted for the vitamins instead.

It has been a really stressful time with me going back to work and my husband hosting the wedding THE SAME WEEK. Subhanallah. I didn't have much say in the timing of either. In the process, the little guy (or medium-sized guy) got short-changed with respect to attention and care.

Asalamu Alaykom TS,

You're right that he's a mimic. He loves the feeling of being older now. He's doing his prayers, doing work I assign him and generally more mature in his efforts.

In a way he was home alone because I was at work. My husband was around but he was busy with the wedding. My son is used to me being at work and him being at home but he wasn't used to the unavailability of my husband. During the time my husband was more out than in, my son took the vitamins.

I will be bringing Mr. Boo to school with me on Saturday when I go in to finish up my displays. He was supposed to start school on Sunday but there's the delay until mid-September. Inshahahallah the change will do him good.

Thanks for sharing the information.

And thanks to all for caring.

Londoneya said...

Phew, I was sitting on the edge of my seat, thank God he is okay, and you are right, it's not worth it having them around since he still knew how to get to them. I know a few people who have locks on their medicine cupboard but there is a possibility the child could discover where the key is...Thank God you're all safe x

Andrew Stefanczyk said...

We have worked long and hard on this. Feel free to link or promote. We think it is a far healthier option to pills

Hebah Dwidari said...

wow, i admire your ability to keep calm in that situation, i would have gone crazy running around in a great panic.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Londoneya,

Sorry to concern you too much. I tried to inform readers at the beginning that he is OK now.

Thanks for being kind and caring!

Kids are weird. There is no way around that. Best tack is not to have anything dangerous in the house. Kids are danger magnets with their nature curiosity.

Love and Light!

Asalamu Alaykom Andrew,

I did look up your site. It is interesting to see how eating natural foods can give us those needed vitamins and minerals. Thanks for all your work!

Asalamu Alaykom Hebah,

You must be going through my archives :)

Ya, this latest episode of "How Crazy Can My Son Make Me," was right up there with the others. He's swallowed lead pellets which necessitated eight days in the hospital and an appendectomy. He's run away from daycare after only a month in Egypt. I keep hoping he'll outgrow his monkey mind but he seems to find new explorations despite my prayers.

So, I pray for patience instead. I am so able to freak out---don't get me wrong. However, in those true emergencies I get very calm. I cut through all extraneous thought and aim for the quickest solution. I'm good in an emergency and then I collapse in a heap when the danger is over. Field trips do me in.

As we know, panic solves nothing. It's an indulgence we can't afford. I've had too many times of needing to be very smart very quickly. Alhumdulillah for the times I've done well. They balance out the other times in my life when I don't---at least I hope they do.

Thanks for traveling down my memory lane and commenting as you go.

Love and Light!