Unintentional childhood poisoning in the Sharon area in Israel: a prospective 5-year study

Y Uziel, A Adler, G Aharonowitz, S Franco, P Fainmesser, B Wolach
Pediatric Emergency Care 2005, 21 (4): 248-51

OBJECTIVES: To study the epidemiology and risk factors for unintentional exposure to poisoning among the Jewish and the Arab population in the Sharon area in Israel.

METHODS: We prospectively evaluated visits to the pediatric emergency department because of unintentional poisoning exposure, at the Meir General Hospital. We collected demographic data, substance exposure data, and the clinical outcome of the poisoning.

RESULTS: During the 5 years of the study, 502 children were evaluated for unintentional poisoning, 84% Jewish and 16% Arabs; 88.5% occurred in children younger than 5 years, with a peak incidence at the age of 2 years (39.5%). Medications including hormones, vitamins, and antibiotics were the most common cause of exposure. Most children (95%) had no symptoms or abnormal findings on physical examination (84%), and most (85%) were discharged after several hours of observation. However, children of Arab origin presented with severe clinical manifestations because of a high rate of pesticide poisoning. There was 1 death from organic phosphate poisoning.

CONCLUSION: Exposure to poisoning is commonly encountered in children. Pesticides exposure is more common in the Arab community and is usually associated with more severe clinical manifestations. Educational preventive programs are mandatory.

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