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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2019 Apr 9. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001817. [Epub ahead of print]

Trends in Pediatric Poisoning-Related Emergency Department Visits: 2001-2011.

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From the Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's National Health System, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.



We sought to understand the burden of pediatric poisonings on the health care system by characterizing poisoning-related emergency department (ED) visits among children on a national level.


This was a repeated cross-sectional analysis of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 2001 to 2011 of children 21 years or younger who presented to an ED. We measured annual rates of visits, trends over time, and patient and visit characteristics associated with poisoning-related ED visits using multivariable logistic regression. We also compared accidental to intentional poisonings.


There were an estimated 713,345 ED visits per year for poisoning in children, and intentional poisoning-related visits increased over the study period (P trend < 0.001). Compared with all other ED visits, poisoning-related ED visits were more common among males (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.44; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.26-1.64) and uninsured patients (aOR, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.05-1.51). Poisoned children were more likely to arrive by ambulance (aOR, 3.38; 95% CI, 2.85-4.01) and be admitted (aOR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.12-1.61). Compared with accidental poisonings, intentional poisonings were more common as age increased (aOR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.13-1.92) and in children of non-Hispanic black race/ethnicity (aOR, 1.81; 95% CI, 1.12-2.93) and more likely to be associated with ambulance arrival (aOR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.07-2.08) and hospital admission (aOR, 1.76; 95% CI, 1.25-2.48).


Poisoning-related ED visits among children have remained stable, with significant increase in intentional ingestions from 2001 to 2011. Poisoned children, and particularly those with intentional poisonings, require more health care resources than children with other health concerns. More study is needed on circumstances leading to pediatric poisonings, so that preventive efforts can be targeted appropriately.

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