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Niger J Clin Pract. 2007 Jun;10(2):111-5.

Pattern of hospital admissions of children with poisoning in the Sudano-Sahelian North eastern Nigeria.

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Department of Paediatrics, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri.



Poisoning is a major problem in the paediatric population. In view of the paucity of literature on the subject matter in the northeastern part of Nigeria, this retrospective study was undertaken to describe the epidemiological features of accidental poisoning in children less than 13 years old who were admitted to the Emergency Paediatrics Unit (EPU) of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), Maiduguri. The specific objectives included the determination of the age range most vulnerable, the principal agents of poisoning, the annual pattern of occurrence, the commonly administered home remedy and the examination of the need for preventive strategies in this part of the country.


Data were extracted from the medical records of 113 patients with accidental poisoning during the period January 1984 to December 2003.


One hundred and thirteen (0.74%) out of 15,196 children were admitted for accidental poisoning. Their ages ranged from 6 months to 12 years. Children aged 0 to 2 years accounted for 80 (70%) cases. There were 69 males and 44 females with a male: female ratio of 1.6:1. Fifty-nine (98.3%) out of 60 children were from low social background. Kerosene and food poisoning (Manihot esculenta) accounted for 89 (78.8%) and 19 (16.8%) of all cases of poisoning respectively. Respiratory symptoms dominated the clinical presentation in 71 (62.8%) cases. Seven patients had severely low bicarbonate levels. Home remedies were administered to 50 (44.3%) out of 113 patients. These remedies consisted of milk in 49 (92.5%) and palm oil (oil from Elais guineensis) in 17 (32.1%) cases. The mean duration of hospital stay was 0.66 (1.67) days. Severe neurological sequelae was recorded in one patient. There was no death. The highest frequency of admission was recorded during the hot and dry months of March to June.


Kerosene is the commonest cause of childhood poisoning in Northeastern Nigeria and children aged 0 to 2 years are the most vulnerable age group. The highest frequency of admission coincides with the period of the hot and dry months of March to June. Education and improvement in the standards of living of the people are the key challenges for the regional governments of Northeastern Nigeria towards achieving poison control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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