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Public Health Rep. 2010 Jul-Aug;125(4):542-7.

Increasing poisoning mortality rates in the United States, 1999-2006.

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Department of Veterans Affairs, National Serious Mental Illness Treatment Research and Evaluation Center, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA.



Poisoning mortality rates have increased dramaticaly in the United States since the 1970s. This trend has been mainly attributed to an increase in accidental medication overdose deaths. The aim of this study was to analyze recent trends in poisoning mortality among U.S. adults using the most recently available data, and to examine gender and age as risk factors.


Data on injury-based mortality for the entire U.S. were obtained from the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) for 1999-2006. We analyzed poisoning mortality rates by age group, gender, and intent. We modeled time trends in poisoning mortality using Poisson regression.


Although intentional and undetermined poisoning mortality rates remained relatively stable, accidental poisoning mortality rates increased 108.5% between 1999 and 2006, and were significantly higher in each successive year (incidence rate ratio = 1.12 per year increase). Unintentional poisoning mortality rates were higher in men than in women; however, the increase in rate over time was higher in women than in men. The unintentional poisoning mortality rate was highest in individuals aged 40-49 years across all years studied, but we observed large increases in the rate for individuals aged 15-29 and 50-59 years during the study period.


Despite recently raised awareness, rates of unintentional poisoning mortality in the U.S. continued to rise in 2006. Men are at increased risk, but this disparity has decreased over time.

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