A 5-year-old Connecticut girl is listed in stable condition after she was accidentally fed noodles laced with the illegal hallucinogen PCP Monday. The girl's mother, Hope Brodie, 26, had cooked PCP in a kitchen pot on Sunday and the same pot was used by a relative the next day to make the child's dinner.
The girl, exposed to residual PCP, according the the New Haven Police Department, began hallucinating shortly after eating the pasta and was taken to Yale New Haven Hospital where she was treated for "internal irregularities," according to The Associated Press. Brodie has been charged with risk of injury to a minor, and the Department of Children and Families has become involved in the case.
"The child presented with the typical PCP-like effects, and the hospital consulted with us," says Buddy Sangalli, director of the Connecticut Poison Center. "With pediatric patients especially, the hospital will often consult with a poison center."
PCP poisoning in a child can cause hallucinations, change in body temperature, increased blood pressure, seizures and even coma. It can also indirectly damage the kidneys and muscles, he says.
"Adults who take the drug are somewhat prepared for what to expect from it. A child would have a more severe reaction and might be more frightened, which might affect their overall body function and put extra stress on the heart," says Sangalli.
In 2009, 17 kids age 5 and younger were reported to poison centers with PCP exposure, according to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
"A very small amount, about 1 to 2 milligrams, is all that's required for poisoning with PCP, because it's so potent," Sangalli says. A lot of toxic substances aren't that potent, but with PCP, a poisonous amount is easy to reach just by the residual amounts of drug left on the vessel used to prepare it, he says.
It takes 24 to 48 hours for the drug's effects to subside, and one exposure would not likely mean long-term effects for the child, says Sangalli.
The drug ingested in this case was a combination of PCP, known chemically as phencyclidine piperidine, and embalming fluid, which is used as a coating for marijuana joints, said Joe Avery, the New Haven Police Department's public information officer. The street name for this combination is "wet."
PCP, originally developed in the 1950s as an intravenous surgical anesthetic, can cause delusions and hallucinations, often giving users feelings of invincibility. The 5-year-old Connecticut girl became hyperactive and confused. She also claimed she had four noses, according to Medical News Today.
The main "teaching point" of this Connecticut case, Sangalli says, is never cross food utensils with any chemical purpose, least of all mind-altering drugs.
The majority of calls to poison centers have to do with accidental dosing, such as ingesting one product thinking it's something else. It's rare that the poisoning comes from toxic residue left on kitchenware, says Gale Banach, director of public education and communication for the Upstate New York Poison Control.
"What's much more common is when people put toxic things in the wrong containers, such as gasoline in pop bottles, antifreeze in cans. Eighty-five percent of our calls are accidents," says Banach. "For that reason alone, we recommend that you keep things, whether medicine, household cleaners, or cosmetics, in their original containers."