Aim: Trends in paediatric deaths due to poisoning are little studied. The aim of this study was to investigate the cause and secular trend of poisoning deaths among Finnish children.
Methods: Death certificates of all Finnish children aged 0-15 who died due to poisoning between 1969 and 2003 were obtained from the Statistics of Finland and analysed.
Results: During the study period, altogether 121 children aged 0-15 years died from poisoning in Finland. Among 0- to 4-year olds, the incidence of poisoning deaths declined to practically zero by the beginning of 1980s. Most of these deaths were unintentional poisonings. Among 5- to 15-year olds, the incidence of poisoning deaths varied during the study period. In this age group, up to 53% of the deaths were suicides among girls compared with 20% among boys (p = 0.017). The corresponding figures for substance abuse were 54% among boys and 9% among girls (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Despite the declining secular trend seen in paediatric poisoning deaths in Finland from 1969 to 2003, the risk of death from both intentional and unintentional poisoning persists in children. Health programmes should be continued especially to promote well-being in families and to prevent teenage suicides and substance abuse.