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Calcium channel blocker ingestions in children.

UNLABELLED: Limited data exists regarding toxicity of calcium channel blockers (CCBs) in children. The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency, the range of toxicity, the appropriate observation time, and to assess effective interventions for CCB ingestions in children. A 6-year retrospective review of CCB ingestions in children younger than 7 years of age reported to one regional poison center was undertaken. Patients with coingestants with recognized cardiovascular or central nervous system (CNS) effects were excluded. Two hundred eighty-three patients met criteria for review. The mean age was 27 months with 52% of all patients being boys. Nifedipine (38%), verapamil (34%), and amlodipine (14%) were most commonly ingested. Seventy-five percent of ingestions reportedly involved < or =1 pill. Symptoms occurred in 16/283 (6%): 4 had vomiting, and 12 had CNS or cardiovascular effects. The mean time to onset of symptoms for regular-release and for sustained-release (SR) CCB preparations were 1.5 hours (range 0.5 to 3 hr) and 4.5 hours (range 1 to 14 hr) respectively.

OUTCOME: 74% of patients had no clinical effects, 4% minor effects, 2% moderate effects, and 20% other. No deaths or major effects were reported.

TREATMENT: 88% of patients evaluated in an emergency department received gastric decontamination, usually one dose of charcoal. Calcium chloride was given in three verapamil SR cases. Five of six patients had reversal of hypotension with IV fluids and decontamination alone. Most pediatric CCB ingestions involve ingestions of small amounts of drug with no effects. Asymptomatic children in this study group who were known to have ingested <12 mg/kg of verapamil SR or <2.7 mg/kg of nifedipine SR could have been monitored at home. Of the children requiring evaluation and monitoring in a health care facility, an observation period for regular-release and SR-CCBs for 3 and 14 hours respectively would have been appropriate. There were insufficient cases with symptoms to draw conclusions for optimal therapeutic interventions.

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