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  • Dr. Steven Horwitz

Poisoning and Children


You find your child on the floor with a bottle of bleach, an open bottle of medication, chewing on a leaf of a plant. What do you do?


"Pediatric poisoning is a common emergency worldwide." (1)

"Our study showed that the two categories of patients at greatest risk for acute poisoning are children under 3 years and adolescents over 12 years." (6)


Where does the poisoning occur? (1)

  • At home

Is the poisoning intentional or unintentional? (1,3)

  • Unintentional (children)

  • Intentional (adolescents) associated with high hospital admission rates.

When does the poisoning occur? (1)

  • Most commonly 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.

What is the most common cause of poisoning? (1) (5)

  • Pharmaceutical drugs, "In most pediatric poisonings, the substances are non- or minimally toxic, but occasionally some are severely toxic, requiring immediate and specific medical intervention to prevent severe harm or death." (1) Over age 12 (6).

  • Cosmetics/Personal Care products, Cleaning Products, Analgesics (pain relief medication, toys, vitamin/supplements (5)

  • Household products under age 2. (6)

What are the top ten products causing unintentional poisoning? (2)

Where are children finding medications? (2)

  • 27% on the ground or misplaced

  • 20% purse, handbag, wallet

  • 20% counter, dresser, table, nightstand

  • 15% pill box, bag of pills

  • 12% other/unknown

What Are the Symptoms of Accidental Childhood Poisoning? (4)

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Drowsiness.

  • Falling over.

  • Abdominal pain.

  • Sore throat.

  • Irritability.

  • Trouble breathing.

  • Unusual drooling.

  • Burns are present on the skin.

  • Blisters present on lip and mouth.

  • Strange odor coming from breath.

  • Unconsciousness.

  • Seizures.

How Can Accidental Childhood Poisoning Be Prevented? (4)

Parents should be very intelligent and aware of the environment of their children. The house should be poison-proof. Following are the preventive measures parents should follow.

  • Dispose of all the poisonous material properly from the house. For example, parents should store medicines in a locked cabinet.

  • All household chemicals which contain poisonous ingredients should be locked away from the child's reach.

  • Parents should avoid taking medicines in front of their children.

  • There should be safety latches present in the cabinet.

  • Poisonous products should never be placed or stored in containers.

  • Parents should always give the medicine to their child according to the prescribed dose and always check the expiry date of medicines.

(1) Clinical spectrum of acute poisoning in children admitted to the pediatric emergency department - Pediatrics & Neonatology (pediatr-neonatol.com)

(2) Safekids-medicine-safety-2015.pdf (poison.org)

(3) 2020 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data Syste

(4) What Are the Causes of Accidental Childhood Poisoning? (icliniq.com)

(5) Poison Statistics National Data 2020 | Poison Control

(6) Acute poisoning in children admitted to pediatric emergency department: a five-years retrospective analysis - PMC (nih.gov)



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