- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) | Ten children at a day care center drank windshield-wiper fluid after a staffer served it from a container mistaken for Kool-Aid and placed in a refrigerator, authorities said Friday.

The day care owner surrendered her state license Friday.

Doctors estimate the children, ages 2 to 7, drank about an ounce of the blue 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. The day care also provided the fluid for testing.

The windshield wiper fluid was bought with several other items on a recent shopping trip, Ms. James told the Associated Press. “This product was mistakenly grabbed and thought to be Kool-Aid and put in the refrigerator,” she said.

The day care’s operator, Carolyn Bynum, was interviewed Friday by child welfare investigators and gave up her license, said Julie Munsell, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services.

Ms. Bynum declined to comment to the Associated Press.

“She was so upset about what had occurred and she was definitely worried some of the children had been injured,” Ms. Munsell said. “It was just a mistake, she says. She says it was just a horrible mistake.”

Ms. Bynum’s license had allowed her to care for 10 children in her home in Scott, about 15 miles east of Little Rock. Ms. Munsell said there were no complaints or serious compliance issues in the past.

By surrendering her license, Ms. Bynum can no longer care for children without reapplying.

The toxicologist warned that many antifreeze or windshield-wiper solutions have bright colors, which can be mistaken 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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