17 000 kids ingest hand sanitizer each year - some on purpose, CDC says

Most of those exposures - 91 percent - were among children five years old or younger. The CDC report theorized they were attracted to the pleasant scents of some brands.

For children ages 6 to 12, however, 15 percent of exposures were no accident, "suggesting that old children might be deliberately misusing or abusing alcohol hand sanitizers," the report stated.

Another clue about sanitizer abuse among those older children was the timing of poison-control calls: For older children, they dropped significantly during the summer months. That implies children have access to sanitizers, as well as the opportunity to experiment, during the school year.

Many brands of sanitizer contain 60 to 95 percent ethanol or isopropyl alcohol.

Most side-effects reported to poison control hotlines were temporary: eye irritation, vomiting, mouth irritation, cough and abdominal pain. However, five children lapsed into a coma after ingesting sanitizer, and three children had seizures.

The CDC report said hand-washing with soap and water continues to be a safe way keep germs at bay, and parents should keep their bottles of sanitizer out of the reach of little ones.