North Belfast girl aged 11 in intensive care after 'sniffing body spray'

A Google Street View of the Old Park Road in North Belfast
Stock image of the Oldpark Road in North Belfast -Credit:Google

An eleven-year-old girl from North Belfast is currently in intensive care after "sniffing body spray."

The young girl from the Oldpark area of the city went into cardiac arrest twice at her home on Friday night, May 3, following the incident and was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital where she remains in ICU.

A local representative is speaking out following the incident on behalf of the family, after it's understood a number of similar incidents have occurred throughout the area recently involving children of secondary school age and younger.

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Speaking to Belfast Live, North Belfast Worker's Party representative Fiona McCarthy said: "Her mum called me from across the street to help, she was sniffing body spray. Her heart froze and she went into cardiac arrest twice.

"She's still in ICU but I've been told today she's now coming around, but she was very close. Her heart stopped twice when we were with her and the ambulance arrived.

"It was just a normal body spray like you would give to children at that age. I have a 12-year-old daughter myself and it gives me so much anxiety wondering if she's going into school and getting peer pressured."

Currently it is illegal to sell aerosol spray paints to under-16s, while it is illegal to sell solvents to anyone under the age of 18. Fiona said she would like to see local shops in Northern Ireland taking further action to restrict the sale of all aerosols to under 18s.

She added: "I know of other young children in this area who are sniffing aerosols. I want to make parents and schools more aware of the issue, but also local shops to not be selling these products to under 18s.

"I just want parents and the whole community to be aware that this is happening. We hear about cocaine and other drugs, but these are in the household, you don't need a drug dealer to buy this - you can get them in any shop. Aerosols are just as dangerous as any drugs."

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said they cannot comment on an incident which takes place at a private residence.

In a statement the Public Health Agency said: "We would remind parents and guardians to talk to young people about the dangers of taking unknown substances to warn them that taking something when they cannot be sure of the contents could make them seriously ill or even be fatal.

"It is important to advise young people, that regardless of what they have been told, even by a close friend, that it is impossible to know what is contained in these substances.

"The PHA would also emphasise to young people that if they’re with someone who has taken an unknown substance and has become unwell, they need to get them medical help immediately. It might be frightening and they will be scared of getting in to trouble, but they need to look out for their friends, stay with them and get them help – it could save their lives.

"For young people, the risk of using substances is particularly dangerous. Using substances can impact the brain’s ability to function in the short-term as well as prevent proper growth and development for later in life."

It also issued the following helpful guidelines to parents and guardians of children and young adults.


  • Make the first move and bring up the topic of substance use. Don’t wait until there’s a problem before you decide to talk.

  • Take time to listen to what young people have to say.

  • Respect their views if you want the same in return.

  • Discuss the risks associated with substance use.

  • Discuss possible consequences of their actions and support them to make the right choices.

  • Think about your own behaviours and the influence this can have on young peoples’ behaviour.


  • Assume young people don’t want to talk. Not talking to them could be interpreted as your approval of them using substances.

  • Assume they already know everything.

  • Interrupt or be judgemental, even if you don’t agree with their opinion.

If you think you or someone you know might have a problem with substance use, including issues with alcohol, and would like to get help, please visit for information on support services near you.

A range of services is also available to you if you are affected by someone else’s drinking and/or substance use, regardless of whether or not your loved one is receiving help for their problem.

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