Unintentional child poisonings treated in United States hospital emergency departments: national estimates of incident cases, population-based poisoning rates, and product involvement

Robert L Franklin, Gregory B Rodgers
Pediatrics 2008, 122 (6): 1244-51

OBJECTIVES: The goals were to develop national estimates of unintentional child poisoning cases treated in US hospital emergency departments, to determine population-based poisoning rates, and to evaluate characteristics of the victims and the products involved.

METHODS: Cases reported through the US Consumer Product Safety Commission National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, involving a national probability sample of US hospital emergency departments, were used as a basis for developing national estimates of product-related poisonings involving children<5 years of age treated in US hospital emergency departments in 2004.

RESULTS: There were an estimated 86194 child poisoning incidents treated in US hospital emergency departments in 2004, amounting to 429.4 poisonings per 100000 children. Approximately 70% of the poisonings involved children 1 or 2 years of age, slightly more than one half involved boys, and 13.3% resulted in hospital admission. Approximately 59.5% of the poisonings involved oral prescription drugs, oral nonprescription drugs, or supplements. Other major product categories resulting in poisonings included cleaning products (13.2%), drugs and ointment preparations intended for external use (4.9%), and personal care products (4.7%). Approximately 54.7% of the poisonings involved products already subject to child-resistant packaging requirements under the Poison Prevention Packaging Act.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite advances in recent years, unintentional child poisonings remain an important public health concern. The circumstances surrounding poisonings need to be evaluated further, and intervention strategies need to be developed.

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