Are 1-2 tablets dangerous? Beta-blocker exposure in toddlers

J Emerg Med. 2004 Apr;26(3):309-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2003.11.015.


The common use and wide availability of beta-adrenergic blocking agents make them frequent ingestants for small children. Yet, there are no clear guidelines in the literature to direct the care of the toddler with the history of ingesting 1-2 tablets. With 40 years of extensive clinical experience, not one documented case of death or serious cardiovascular morbidity as a direct result of a beta-blocker exposure is to be found in an English language review for children under 6 years of age. As with children on chronic beta-blocker therapy, several cases of symptomatic hypoglycemia associated with a single acute propranolol exposure suggest a vulnerability to this complication. Though the risk to the toddler exposed to 1-2 tablets appears to be extremely small, several factors mitigate the actual risk to the child and the need for triage to a health care facility.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / pharmacokinetics
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / poisoning*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Services / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemia / blood
  • Hypoglycemia / chemically induced
  • Hypoglycemia / therapy
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Pediatrics / standards
  • Poisoning / physiopathology
  • Poisoning / therapy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Tablets
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Tablets