Does fluorescent urine indicate antifreeze ingestion by children?

Pediatrics. 2001 Jan;107(1):113-4. doi: 10.1542/peds.107.1.113.


Objective: Fluorescent urine has been reported to indicate antifreeze ingestion. Recently, we evaluated a child who was suspected of ethylene glycol ingestion. Although she had fluorescent urine, subsequent studies showed that she had not ingested antifreeze. We tested whether fluorescent urine indicates antifreeze ingestion by children.

Methods: A convenience sample of urine specimens from 30 hospitalized children was obtained. All of the patients had been hospitalized for reasons unrelated to poisoning. The specimens were viewed with a Wood's lamp, and the samples were identified as fluorescent or not fluorescent. A second convenience sample of urine specimens from a group of 16 healthy children was obtained, and these specimens were identified as fluorescent or not fluorescent in a similar manner.

Results: The majority of urine specimens obtained from children are fluorescent. There is variation in the interpretation of urine fluorescence among observers. The type of container used may influence the finding of fluorescence.

Conclusions: Fluorescent urine is not an indicator of ethylene glycol antifreeze ingestion by children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Drug Overdose
  • Ethylene Glycol / poisoning*
  • Ethylene Glycol / urine*
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values


  • Ethylene Glycol