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 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.
"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."
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Julie Munsell, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services, identified the day care operator as Carolyn Bynum in Scott, about 15 miles east of Little Rock. Bynum declined to comment Friday.
Bynum had a state license to care for 10 children in her home and had no found complaints or serious compliance issues in the past, Munsell said. Child welfare investigators planned to interview Bynum on Friday.
"They'll go out, they'll get an explanation and they'll try to sort (it) out preliminarily," Munsell said.
Munsell said a suspension or license revokation could be imposed pending an investigation.
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.