Five year retrospective evaluation of sulfonylurea ingestion in children

J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1996;34(3):267-70. doi: 10.3109/15563659609013787.


Background: Oral hypoglycemic medications are frequently used for Type II diabetes and accidental ingestions by children may occur. There are no comprehensive pediatric studies documenting poison center experiences.

Study objective: To evaluate the toxicity of oral sulfonylurea ingestion in children and the efficacy of treatments instituted in these cases.

Method: Retrospective review of all ingestions of oral sulfonylureas reported to a single regional poison control center 1987-1991.

Results: Ninety-three cases were identified, one to 16 years old (mean of 3.5 years). Eighty cases (86%) were less than six years of age. Of the six medications used, three, chlorpropamide, glipizide and glyburide made up 88 (95%) cases. Twenty-five patients (27%) became hypoglycemic (glucose < 60 mg/dL). The mean minimum blood glucose in these patients was 46.5 mg/dL (minimum 20 mg/dL). Time of onset of hypoglycemia ranged from 0.5 to 16 h (mean 4.3 h; median 2 h). Only four patients had the onset of chemical hypoglycemia more than four hours postexposure. Persistent hypoglycemia occurred in nine children (10%) despite intravenous glucose therapy. There were no seizures. Mean time to decontamination of patients with and without hypoglycemia was 1.4 and 1.2 h respectively. Intravenous glucose of the following concentrations was administered: 5% (40), 10% (15), 20% (1), and 50% (3). Accidental ingestion of a single tablet of chlorpropamide (250 mg), glipizide (5 mg). and glyburide (2.5 mg) each produced hypoglycemia in children ages one to four years. Accidental ingestion of 5-10 mg glyburide produced a blood glucose of 57 mg/dL in an 11-year-old child. All patients recovered fully. There were no neurological sequelae noted.

Conclusion: Children ingesting oral hypoglycemics should be admitted to a health care facility for 24 h observation. In this series a single tablet produced hypoglycemia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Glucose
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / poisoning*
  • Infant
  • Philadelphia / epidemiology
  • Poison Control Centers
  • Poisoning / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / poisoning*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds