Accidental alcohol poisoning mortality in the United States, 1996-1998

Alcohol Res Health. 2003;27(1):110-8.


This study examines the prevalence and patterns of mortality resulting from unintentional poisoning by alcohol (ICD-9 code E860) in the United States. Relevant data for the most recently available years (1996 through 1998) were derived from the Multiple Cause of Death public-use computer data files compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Data on deaths ascribed to alcohol poisoning as either the underlying cause or as 1 of up to 20 contributing causes were selected and analyzed. The annual average number of deaths for which alcohol poisoning was listed as an underlying cause was 317, with an age-adjusted death rate of 0.11 per 100,000 population. An average of 1,076 additional deaths included alcohol poisoning as a contributing cause, bringing the total number of deaths with any mention of alcohol poisoning to 1,393 per year (0.49 per 100,000 population). Males accounted for more than 80 percent of these deaths. The rate was lower among married than unmarried people (i.e., never married, divorced, or widowed) and was inversely related to education. Among males, the alcohol poisoning death rate was higher for Hispanics and non-Hispanic Blacks than non-Hispanic Whites. Among females, racial/ethnic differences were small, but Black women had higher alcohol poisoning death rates than White or Hispanic women. Alcohol poisoning deaths tended to be most prevalent among people ages 35 to 54; only 2 percent of alcohol poisoning decedents were younger than age 21. Among deaths with a contributing cause of alcohol poisoning, almost 90 percent had an underlying cause related to some type of poisoning from other drugs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality*
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Alcohol Drinking / ethnology
  • Alcohol Drinking / mortality*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Databases, Factual
  • Educational Status
  • Ethanol / poisoning*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • National Center for Health Statistics, U.S.
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data


  • Ethanol