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by Abigail Van Buren

Poison control told us that the fluoride in the toothpaste was a toxic substance -- at least when more than three ounces were consumed at one time by a 33-pound child. They advised us to give her syrup of ipecac (which we fortunately had in our locked medicine cabinet) to induce vomiting. They also told us that the vomiting would probably continue for several hours, along with diarrhea.

It was a long, upsetting night for all of us, but thanks to our friend and the doctors at the poison control center, our daughter is fine today.

Abby, please warn all parents that because a product does not have a warning label does not mean that it is safe for unsupervised use by children. Many household products are often left unlocked in bathroom cabinets and drawers, on counters, under sinks, often by the same unsuspecting parents who carefully lock up their medicines and cleaning supplies.

Please be more careful than I was. And if you don't have syrup of ipecac, purchase some today and post the number of your closest poison control center next to your telephone. -- A WISER MOM IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR WISER MOM: Thank you for your helpful reminder to other parents. Phone numbers for your police department, fire department, poison control center and doctors should be clearly posted near every phone, especially in homes in which there are children. Ideally, children should be under constant supervision. But in reality, nobody can watch children 100 percent of the time.

DEAR ABBY: I am 5 foot 2 inches and weigh 90 pounds. I try very hard to gain weight, but my doctor tells me that I have an overactive metabolism, and that it will work itself out someday. I try to accept that and do whatever I can to stay healthy and gain weight.

What really bothers me is being called "skinny." People say mean things like, "Every time I see you, you look skinnier and skinnier," or they'll grab my arm, measure it with their fingers, and say, "Gee, your arms are skinny -- you must eat like a bird." I could never imagine someone saying to an overweight person, "Every time I see you, you look fatter and fatter!"

Abby, the reason I am writing is to make people aware that it hurts a thin person to be called "skinny" as much as it hurts an overweight person to be called "fat." Also, it's just as hard for a thin person to gain weight as it is for an overweight person to lose weight. I wish people could start using words like "thin, slim, slender or petite," instead of "skinny, bony or scrawny." -- SICK OF BEING CALLED SKINNY

DEAR SICK: Although most offenders are probably more thoughtless than intentionally mean-spirited, your message deserves to be heard.

Abby's family recipes are included in her cookbooklet. Send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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