Are one or two dangerous? Sulfonylurea exposure in toddlers

Gary L Little, Keith S Boniface
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2005, 28 (3): 305-310
Sulfonylurea-based oral hypoglycemics are in widespread use in the adult population, increasing the potential for unintentional exposure in children. This article examines the risk of toxicity in children under 6 years of age who ingest one to two tablets of a sulfonylurea. We review the literature on sulfonylurea toxicity, including cases reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). The ingestion of one to two sulfonylurea tablets by a small child can lead to profound hypoglycemia with severe sequelae if untreated. As a result, all potential sulfonylurea ingestions by young children should be evaluated by a physician. A capillary glucose level must be rapidly determined at presentation and should then be repeated at regular intervals for up to 8 hours. A longer observation period is recommended for the extended release preparation of glipizide. Asymptomatic children who do not develop hypoglycemia within the recommended observation period may be safely discharged home. All children who exhibit clear symptoms of hypoglycemia or glucose levels < 60 mg/dL should be admitted for supplemental glucose (oral or intravenous), with careful observation of clinical condition and monitoring of serum glucose levels. In cases refractory to intravenous glucose, therapy with octreotide or diazoxide may be beneficial.

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