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Logo of injprevInjury PreventionCurrent TOCInstructions for authors
Inj Prev. Mar 1999; 5(1): 31–35.
PMCID: PMC1730455

Unintentional poisoning hospitalisations among young children in Victoria

Abstract

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.

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Selected References

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