Implications of diphenhydramine single-dose unintended ingestions in young children

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2007 Jul;23(7):465-8. doi: 10.1097/01.pec.0000280510.75418.31.


Background: Diphenhydramine is frequently used in children, but the consequences of single unintended dose exposures in young children are unknown.

Methods: We evaluated 2000-2001 American Association of Poison Control Centers-Toxic Exposure Surveillance data on children exposed to diphenhydramine ingestions.

Results: Nine hundred twenty-six cases met the inclusion criteria; 49.1% were men, mean age was 29.7 +/- 13.0 months (range, 1-72 months). Approximately 85% of unintentional exposures occurred in 1- to 3-year-old children. The mean dose ingested was 6.4 +/- 6.1 mg/kg (median, 4.6 mg/kg). Thirty-two percent of patients were symptomatic: minor (29.4%), moderate (2.9%), and severe (0.11%). There was no relationship between dose and symptom severity. Diphenhydramine dose ingestion of 7.5 mg/kg or greater was not a predictor of severity (P = 0.47)

Conclusions: The relationship between ingested dose and severity of symptoms was insignificant.

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Anti-Allergic Agents / poisoning*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diphenhydramine / poisoning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mortality
  • Poison Control Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Anti-Allergic Agents
  • Diphenhydramine