Logo of injprevInjury PreventionVisit this articleVisit this journalSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Inj Prev. 1999 Mar; 5(1): 31–35.
PMCID: PMC1730455

Unintentional poisoning hospitalisations among young children in Victoria


Objectives—To describe the epidemiology of unintentional childhood poisoning hospitalisation in Victoria, Australia, in order to monitor trends and identify areas for research and prevention.

Methods—For children under 5 years, all Victorian public hospital admissions, July 1987 to June 1995, due to unintentional poisoning by drugs, medicines, and other substances were analysed. Similar cases were also extracted from the database of the Royal Children's Hospital intensive care unit, Melbourne for the years 1979–91. Log linear regression modelling was used for trend analyses.

Results—The annual average childhood unintentional poisoning rate was 210.7 per 100 000. Annual rates for males consistently exceeded those for females. The most common agents were those acting on the respiratory system and on smooth and skeletal muscles (muscle relaxants, cough and cold medicines, antiasthmatics), aromatic analgesics (paracetamol), and systemic agents (including antihistamines).

Further investigation is justified for cardiac agents, some respiratory agents, and asthma medications.

Conclusions—Childhood poisoning hospitalisation rates have not decreased in Victoria over recent years. A focused, agent specific approach, as well as a series of generic measures for the prevention of poisoning to children under 5 is advocated. The ongoing surveillance, collection and analysis of data, in addition to research on specific poisoning agents are essential components of any prevention strategy.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (114K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Krug A, Ellis JB, Hay IT, Mokgabudi NF, Robertson J. The impact of child-resistant containers on the incidence of paraffin (kerosene) ingestion in children. S Afr Med J. 1994 Nov;84(11):730–734. [PubMed]
  • Rodgers GB. The safety effects of child-resistant packaging for oral prescription drugs. Two decades of experience. JAMA. 1996 Jun 5;275(21):1661–1665. [PubMed]
  • Sibert JR, Craft AW, Jackson RH. Child-resistant packaging and accidental child poisoning. Lancet. 1977 Aug 6;2(8032):289–290. [PubMed]
  • Walton WW. An evaluation of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act. Pediatrics. 1982 Mar;69(3):363–370. [PubMed]
  • Campbell D, Oates RK. Childhood poisoning--a changing profile with scope for prevention. Med J Aust. 1992 Feb 17;156(4):238–240. [PubMed]
  • Nolan T, Penny M. Epidemiology of non-intentional injuries in an Australian urban region: results from injury surveillance. J Paediatr Child Health. 1992 Feb;28(1):27–35. [PubMed]
  • Melis K, Bochner A. Acute poisoning in a children's hospital: an 8 year experience. Acta Clin Belg Suppl. 1990;13:98–100. [PubMed]
  • Lacroix J, Gaudreault P, Gauthier M. Admission to a pediatric intensive care unit for poisoning: a review of 105 cases. Crit Care Med. 1989 Aug;17(8):748–750. [PubMed]
  • Petridou E, Polychronopoulou A, Kouri N, Karpathios T, Koussouri M, Messaritakis Y, Mathioudakis Y, Siafas K, Tsitsika H, Zografos E. Unintentional childhood poisoning in athens: a mirror of consumerism? J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1997;35(6):669–675. [PubMed]
  • Repetto MR. Epidemiology of poisoning due to pharmaceutical products, Poison Control Centre, Seville, Spain. Eur J Epidemiol. 1997 Apr;13(3):353–356. [PubMed]
  • Parsons BJ, Day LM, Ozanne-Smith J, Dobbin M. Rodenticide poisoning among children. Aust N Z J Public Health. 1996 Oct;20(5):488–492. [PubMed]
  • Day LM, Ozanne-Smith J, Parsons BJ, Dobbin M, Tibballs J. Eucalyptus oil poisoning among young children: mechanisms of access and the potential for prevention. Aust N Z J Public Health. 1997 Jun;21(3):297–302. [PubMed]
  • Cornish LS, Parsons BJ, Dobbin MD. Automatic dishwasher detergent poisoning: opportunities for prevention. Aust N Z J Public Health. 1996 Jun;20(3):278–283. [PubMed]
  • Tibballs J. Clinical effects and management of eucalyptus oil ingestion in infants and young children. Med J Aust. 1995 Aug 21;163(4):177–180. [PubMed]
  • Watt GM, Ozanne-Smith J. Trends in public hospital injury admission rates, Victoria, July 1987 to June 1993. Aust N Z J Public Health. 1996 Aug;20(4):393–401. [PubMed]
  • Cummings P, Koepsell TD, Mueller BA. Methodological challenges in injury epidemiology and injury prevention research. Annu Rev Public Health. 1995;16:381–400. [PubMed]
  • MacIntyre CR, Ackland MJ, Chandraraj EJ. Accuracy of injury coding in Victorian hospital morbidity data. Aust N Z J Public Health. 1997 Dec;21(7):779–783. [PubMed]
  • Yamamoto LG, Wiebe RA, Matthews WJ., Jr Toxic exposures and ingestions in Honolulu: I. A prospective pediatric ED cohort; II. A prospective poison center cohort. Pediatr Emerg Care. 1991 Jun;7(3):141–148. [PubMed]
  • Waldman HB. The poisoning of our children. ASDC J Dent Child. 1993 Mar-Apr;60(2):132–135. [PubMed]
  • Wiseman H. Accidental childhood poisoning. Health Visit. 1995 Apr;68(4):163–164. [PubMed]

Articles from Injury Prevention are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group


Save items

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...