Death of girl, two, who swallowed toilet freshener was world first

Death of girl, two, who swallowed toilet freshener was world first

A two-year-old girl who died after apparently swallowing a toilet freshener capsule is thought to be the first child in the world to have suffered such an injury, an inquest has heard.

Arietta-Grace Barnett, from Sarisbury Green, Hampshire, was taken to hospital amid fears she had ingested the cleaner on June 28, 2019 and began vomiting a “bright pink” liquid, the Winchester hearing has been told.

She was declared well enough to leave hospital on July 2 before attending an outpatient appointment the following day.

But after Arietta-Grace began bleeding on July 9, she was readmitted to Southampton General Hospital and died that day.

Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said Arietta-Grace was believed to have swallowed a Toilet Duck capsule.

She said there is an issue around child-proofing the product which parents and manufacturers need to be aware of.

She explained that another potential problem with the product is that it is designed to slow-release “globules” of chemicals.

Ms Rhodes-Kemp said: “The child-proofing wasn’t child proof because it had definitely been tampered with at the top and according to mum, that was done by one of the children.

“It was possible for this to be opened, that is an issue and will have implications to manufacturers and parents about how they keep this type of product.”

Dr Nicola Trevelyan, consultant paediatrician at Southampton General Hospital, told the hearing that although Arietta-Grace continued to have difficulty taking on fluids and food while admitted to hospital, she stopped vomiting and her condition appeared to improve.

She said she had believed Arietta-Grace was showing signs of a viral gastroenteritis.

Paediatric surgeon Simon Keys told the hearing that if a chemical from the product had caused such a significant injury as suffered by Arietta-Grace, “that hasn’t been described in a child before”.

He added: “If this is what has happened to Arietta, this is the first time it has happened in the world.

“These things are designed to stick to wet surfaces, I am not sure this product is designed to kill bacteria, it’s meant to make your toilet clean and smell fresh.

“If this is the explanation for the injury, it’s the first time it’s been described, it’s a tragedy clearly, it has wide implications for everybody in the medical community treating people with this type of injury and for the people making these products.

“The outcome was totally unpredictable and I do not think we can say for certain that this product caused that injury.”

He said he proposed a “wait and watch” approach for Arietta-Grace’s treatment and explained he did not advise an early endoscopy.

He said the process of using a camera could cause more harm than good by making any injury to the oesophagus from the swollen chemical worse.

The inquest continues.

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