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Pediatrics. 2008 Dec;122(6):1244-51. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-3551.

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

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Directorate for Economic Analysis, US Consumer Product Safety Commission, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.



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.


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.


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.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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