Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic increased demand for alcohol-based hand sanitizers. We aimed to describe the epidemiological trends in pediatric alcohol-based hand sanitizer cases reported to United States poison centers. We characterized clinically significant pediatric reports involving alcohol-based hand sanitizer products before and during the pandemic and methanol-containing hand sanitizers during the pandemic. Methods: We included all single-substance cases involving alcohol-based hand sanitizers reported to the National Poison Data System among children ≤ 19 years from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2021, and methanol-containing hand sanitizers from 23 June 2020 to 31 December 2021. Multiple product exposures and non-human exposures were excluded. Clinically significant outcomes included moderate or major effects or death. Results: There were 95,718 alcohol-based hand sanitizer pediatric cases during the study period. Most (n = 89,521; 94%) were unintentional, occurred by ingestion (n = 89,879; 93.9%), occurred at home, and were managed at the exposure site (n = 89,774; 93.8%). Common symptoms were vomiting (n = 2,969; 3.1%), coughing (n = 1,102; 1.2%), ocular irritation (n = 1,244; 1.3%), and drowsiness (n = 981; 1.0%). Most children (n = 3,937; 66.2%) managed at a health care facility were treated and released; a minority were admitted (n = 527; 9.0%). Few children (n = 81; 1.4%) were admitted to the intensive care unit. The prevalence of clinically significant cases increased in 2020 and 2021, compared to 2017. Population-adjusted rates, by state, of alcohol-based hand sanitizer cases ranged from 280 to 2,700 per million children. Of the 540 reported cases involving methanol-containing hand sanitizers, the majority (n = 255) occurred in July 2020. Thirteen cases (2.4%) had clinically significant outcomes. The prevalence of clinically significant cases remained similar in 2020 and 2021 and exhibited lower prevalence compared to alcohol-based products. Population-adjusted rates, by state, ranged from fewer than 0.9 to 40 per million children. Conclusions: Clinically significant pediatric cases involving alcohol-based hand sanitizers increased during the pandemic and remained elevated in 2021. Cases involving methanol-containing products were less frequent. Our findings may inform heightened product quality control and regulatory oversight.
- Hand sanitizers
- poison centers