Profile of childhood poisoning at a tertiary care centre in North India

Indian J Pediatr. 2008 Aug;75(8):791-4. doi: 10.1007/s12098-008-0105-7. Epub 2008 Jun 25.


Objectives: To determine the profile and outcome (discharge from emergency room after observation, admission or death) of pediatric patients presenting with acute poisoning to a tertiary care centre in north India.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the last 2 year (July, 2004 to July, 2006) hospital records of pediatric emergency room to profile all cases of pediatric poisoning during that period and noted their outcome. All cases age < or = 12 years with definite history of poisoning were included.

Results: 111 patients presented to the pediatric emergency during the study period. Mean age of our patients was 3.12 +/- 2.04 yrs (SD). Majority of our patients (63.9%) was in the 1-3 yr age group. Males outnumbered females by a factor of two; majority of our patients resided in urban areas. Kerosene (27.9%), drugs (19.8%) and insecticides (11.7%) were the agents most frequently implicated. Almost all (96.9%) ingestions were accidental in nature. Thirty six patients (32.4%) were asymptomatic after 6 hr of observation in the emergency ward; 75 patients (67.6%) developed symptoms related to toxic ingestion. The common serious symptoms included altered sensorium, respiratory distress, seizures, ataxia, hypotension, cyanosis and burns; three patients required intubation and mechanical ventilation. Almost one third of our patients underwent gastric lavage; no patient with kerosene poisoning or any other inappropriate indication underwent the same.

Conclusion: The trends for pediatric poisoning noted at our centre are not very different from those observed in hospital-based studies conducted more than a decade ago, despite the rapid socioeconomic development in our country. In sharp contrast to developing countries, where majority of poisonings are due to common non-toxic household products, most of our patients require hospitalization because of severe symptoms related to dangerous nature of toxins ingested. Consultation with the poison cell results in improved patient management.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medical Records / statistics & numerical data
  • Poisoning / epidemiology*
  • Poisoning / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome