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Keywords:

  • Acute child poisoning;
  • Child safety;
  • Household accidents

Abstract

Aim

To evaluate the incidence, clinical features and outcome of acute poisoning in children of less than 6 years of age in northern Finland.

Methods

Children hospitalized with acute poisoning at the Oulu University Hospital between 1991 and 2010 were retrospectively evaluated from hospital records.

Results

There were 334 hospital admissions due to acute poisoning during the study period, with an overall incidence rate of 5.2 per 10 000 per year, decreasing slightly from 6.7 in 1991–1995 to 4.5 in 2006–2010. Mean length of a hospital stay was 1.2 (SD ± 1.26) days. The most common substances ingested were terbutaline (12.3%), benzodiazepines (12.0%) and dishwasher powder (9.3%). Almost half of the patients were admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit, but most only required supportive care. Specific antidotes were administered in 16 cases. Three patients suffered from aspiration pneumonia as a result of ingesting poison, but no children died during the study.

Conclusion

Poisoning is a fairly common cause of hospital admission in children under the age of six. In most cases, their clinical condition is good, and they can be discharged after a short surveillance period.