Why iced slushy drinks can be dangerous for children

A parent has issued an urgent warning after her son nearly died after drinking a slushy after school.

Four-year-old Albie was with a friend in a bowling alley on October 13 in Warwickshire, UK, when they were handed a small strawberry slushy.

He had enjoyed them countless times before so his mum Beth thought it would be a nice treat for his after-school activity, Kidspot reports.

The little boy was over the moon with his tasty drink but an hour after he finished the frozen beverage his demeanour changed.

Beth strapped her son in the back seat of the car when he suddenly became “tired and agitated.”

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“It was a really strange experience. He kept screaming ‘no’ and ‘leave me alone’ in his car seat. He was screaming then going floppy again,” she said.

At first, she thought he had a virus or was just tired from the exciting game of bowling he played earlier but things took a worrying turn.

Albie began “clawing at his face” and hallucinating in the back seat before he collapsed, falling unconscious.

“At this point, I don’t even recall if he was breathing,” the terrified 24-year-old said.

“He was a dead weight when I carried him through the door, he was unconscious.”

Beth rushed her son to the hospital but his body was so heavy the medical staff were struggling to keep him awake.

“They were shaking him, trying to wake him up, but he wasn’t responding,” she said.

“They took him to the [resuscitation] room where they started giving him rescue breaths because he wasn’t breathing by himself.”

At the hospital, doctors told Beth that her son’s heart was beating at an “extremely slow” rate, and his blood sugar levels were dangerously low, leading them to wonder if he had accidentally consumed drugs or was exposed to insulin.

It took three days for Albie to recover from the slushie ordeal but it was a dangerously close call.

Doctors told Beth that her son could have died if they had taken him home instead of to emergency care.

“It was a very scary realisation,” the British mum said.

They soon realised he was likely suffering a reaction to glycerol – the ingredient used to prevent slushies from freezing solid and giving them the slushy texture.

Glycerol is typically safe when consumed by an adult in small doses, but for kids, it can possibly be fatal.

“At very high levels of exposure – typically when several of these products are drunk by a child in a short space of time glycerol intoxication could cause shock, hypoglycaemia and loss of consciousness,” said the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Kids older than four may also experience adverse reactions to the slushy drinks, albeit not as extreme.

According to the FSA, children aged 18 and under “may suffer from headaches and sickness caused by exposure to glycerol.”

Albie is the second child to nearly die after consuming slushies in the UK, with a Scottish toddler losing consciousness less than half an hour after consuming one of the cold beverages.

Three-year-old Angus was in a shopping centre with his mum, Victoria, when he asked her for a raspberry slushy.

He’d never had one before, so his mum thought it would be a sweet treat for her baby to try.

But less than 30 minutes after consuming the drink, the toddler started moaning to his mum that he wanted to go home.

Becoming agitated and grumpy, the family continued walking around the shops for a little while before his body went “limp and stone cold.”

“I thought he’d thrown himself on the floor having a temper tantrum, but when I looked his eyes were at the back of his head, and he was having a seizure,” the horrified mum recalled.

She began screaming for help, and soon, an ambulance was taking him directly to the hospital.

He was unconscious for two hours, and doctors told Victoria her son’s blood sugar levels were dangerously low.

She thought he was going to die.

“It was the scariest thing I’d ever experienced,” Victoria said. “He was well that day – there was nothing obviously wrong with him. There’s nothing like this in the family.”

In August 2023, the FSA issued a new warning about the dangers of children under four consuming slushies. They have also advised shops to stop giving free refills to children under 10, as they may become exposed to high levels of glycerol.

But mums like Victoria and Beth are urging for stricter rules to be put in place, lest a child loses their life.

Beth is furious that her son had consumed so many slushies before without an issue, but this terrifying ordeal has scared her away from them for life.

“I was angry that it was something so simple,” she said. “I’m a parent that’s conscious of what her child consumes.”

Now, she says the British government needs to do more to protect kids and prevent a tragedy from occurring.

“[The government] needs to raise the limit on the guidelines,” said Beth. “I don’t think they should be sold to under-10s.”

“This is something that every child has which is marketed towards children at theme parks, bowling, cinemas – that drink is always there.”

This story originally appeared on Kidspot and has been reproduced with permission

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