- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (AP) - Ten children drank windshield wiper fluid after a staffer at an Arkansas day care mistakenly put the liquid in a refrigerator and served it, hospital officials said Friday.

Doctors estimate the children, ages 2 to 7, drank about an ounce of the fluid late Thursday afternoon before realizing it tasted wrong, said Laura James, a pediatric pharmacologist and toxicologist at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.

Only one child remained hospitalized Friday morning, after blood samples showed “measurable levels” of methanol, a highly toxic alcohol that can induce comas and cause blindness, officials said.

“All we know was that the individual at the day care had recently shopped and had come back to the day care with a lot of different products,” James told The Associated Press. “This product was mistakenly grabbed and thought to be Kool-Aid and put in the refrigerator.”

Neither James nor officials at the state Department of Human Service could immediately name the day care in the Scott community, about 15 miles east of Little Rock. DHS spokeswoman Julie Munsell said investigators planned to visit the day care Friday.

“It has not been reported to us yet,” Munsell said Friday morning. “Either it happened and they didn’t report as they should have … or it happened after business hours.”

The children all were examined by doctors at the hospital and the day care provided a sample of the windshield wiper fluid for laboratory testing, James said.

The toxicologist warned that many antifreeze or windshield wiper solutions have bright colors, which children can mistake for fruit drinks.

“I think the take-home message is not to have these products in the kitchen or where you’re doing any kind of food preparation,” she said.

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