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Pediatrics. 1992 Jun;89(6 Pt 1):999-1006.

Comparison of pediatric poisoning hazards: an analysis of 3.8 million exposure incidents. A report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

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National Capital Poison Center, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC.


This analysis of life-threatening and fatal pediatric poisonings was conducted to aid poison prevention educational efforts, guide product reformulations and aversive agent use, reassess over-the-counter status for selected pharmaceuticals, and identify research areas for clinical advances in the treatment of pediatric poisonings. A hazard factor was devised to assess more objectively the pediatric poisoning hazard posed by pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical products. By considering the frequency and extent of injury following actual exposures, the hazard factor reflects more than the acute toxicity of individual ingredients and is also influenced by such variables as packaging, accessibility, availability (as a reflection of marketing), formulations, and closure types. Of the 3,810,405 exposures involving children younger than 6 years of age reported to poison centers in 1985 through 1989, 2117 patients experienced a major outcome (life-threatening effect or residual disability) and an additional 111 fatalities occurred. The three most commonly implicated substance categories, accounting for 30.4% of reported exposures, include cosmetics and personal care products, cleaning substances, and plants. All had low hazard factors, with significant hazards being limited to a small number of products identified herein. Thus this analysis of hazard factors demonstrates that frequent exposure does not imply toxicity. Iron supplements were the single most frequent cause of pediatric unintentional ingestion fatalities, accounting for 30.2% of reported pediatric pharmaceutical unintentional ingestion fatalities reported over an 8-year period. Antidepressants, cardiovascular medications, and methyl salicylate follow in frequency of pediatric pharmaceutical deaths. Hydrocarbons (including five lamp oil deaths) and pesticides were each implicated in 12 pediatric ingestion fatalities during the 8-year period.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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