Accidental poisoning in childhood: a multicentre survey. 1. General epidemiology

Hum Toxicol. 1987 Jul;6(4):293-301. doi: 10.1177/096032718700600406.


As background to a study of the effectiveness of packaging in preventing childhood poisoning, the National Poisons Information Service coordinated a prospective survey, in which 9 Accident and Emergency (A & E) departments and 5 paediatric departments, between July 1982 and February 1984, recorded 2043 cases of suspected accidental poisoning in children aged 0-60 months. The products implicated were drugs (59%), household products (37%) and plants (3%). The drugs most frequently implicated were analgesics, anxiolytics, cough medicines, oral contraceptives and drugs to supplement diet or treat dietary disorders. The most frequently implicated household products were cleaners such as bleach, detergent and disinfectant, and petroleum distillate. Seventy-five per cent of the children were 2 and 3-year-olds. Fifty-six per cent were male. Only 22% of the children had signs or symptoms on admission. In only 2 cases were these serious. Treatment other than ipecacuanha and/or oral fluids was seldom required. Of the cases where outcome was recorded, 56% were discharged from A & E. The rest were admitted to a ward; only 7 children were admitted to intensive care units. No child died. Comparison with HASS and other epidemiological surveys shows that these results are representative of national trends.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home*
  • Age Factors
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Packaging
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Poisoning / epidemiology
  • Poisoning / etiology*
  • Prospective Studies