Poisoning facts J_J high resolut

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					Childhood Poisoning

· Poisoning is the third leading cause of         pected poisoning – over 26,000 of these
  unintentional injury death in the WHO           were under five years old7. About 20% of
  European Region. Each year 3,000                those who presented were admitted to
  young children aged 0 to 14 die of acute        hospital, a very high proportion of admis-
  poisoning1. Children 5 years and under          sions when compared with other types of
  account for the majority of all poison          accidents. The agent involved in the
  exposures with children up to two years         poisonings was a medication 69% of the
  old especially vulnerable2.                     time – a quarter of those being commonly
                                                  used drugs such as analgesics. In the
· The term poisoning is used when cells           same year 6 children died of accidental
  are injured or destroyed by inhalation,         poisoning.
  ingestion, injection or absorption of a
  toxic substance.                              · A study of 100 cases of unintentional
                                                  poisoning involving children in Athens,
· Curiosity and the desire to put everything      Greece who were brought to the emer-
  in their mouths place young children at         gency clinics of the two children’s hospi-
  considerably greater risk for poison            tals also showed that medicinal products
  exposure than adults. Children will eat or      were implicated in the majority of acci-
  drink anything regardless of how it tastes.     dental poisonings (58%)8. A surprising
  They like things that smell good and are        finding in the same study was that chew-
  drawn to attractive packaging and the           ing and swallowing cigarettes was re-
  colourful substances of many of the             sponsible for 15% of the childhood poi-
  products found around the home3.                soning injuries with the risk of poisoning
                                                  increasing when one or both of the par-
                                                  ents were smokers.
· When exposed to poison, children are
  more likely to suffer serious conse-
  quences because they are smaller, have        · A study found that 23% of the oral pre-
  faster metabolic rates and their bodies         scription drugs that were ingested by
  are less capable of neutralising toxic          children under 5 belonged to someone
  chemicals3.                                     who did not live with the child. Overall,
                                                  17% of the medicines ingested belonged
                                                  to a grandparent or great-grandparent6.
· More than 90% of all poisonings occur
  within the home environment and many
  common household products can poison          · Products to watch out for 9:
  children, including cleaning supplies,
  alcohol, plants, pesticides, medicines,         ·   Pills, medicine: Aspirin and other pain
  and cosmetics4. Cigarettes and tobacco              or cold medications, prescription medi-
  can also cause sickness if eaten and                cines, vitamins, diet pills, and diet sup-
  should be kept well out of the reach of             plements.
  young children.                                 ·   Bathroom: Cleaners, sprays, perfume,
                                                      cologne, hairspray, and mouthwash.
· Most poisonings occur when the product          ·   Household products: Cleaners, pol-
  is being used5.                                     ishes, solvents, and products with lye
                                                      and acids.
                                                  ·   Garage, work room: Insect sprays,
· Every year in the Netherlands a child
                                                      lamp oil, kerosene, lighter fluid, turpen-
  between the ages of 0 to 5 dies from
                                                      tine, paint, glue, batteries, tire fluid and
  poisoning and 1,600 children in this age
  group are admitted to a hospital due to
                                                  ·   Laundry room: Detergents, bleach,
  serious cases of poisoning6. Almost all of
                                                      fabric softeners, and pet products.
  the poisonings occur in the home and a
                                                  ·   Outdoors: Fertilizers, pesticides,
  caregiver was present in 94% of inci-
                                                      plants, and berries.
  dents. In the majority of the cases the
  child was under limited supervision due to
                                                · While poisoning incidents are often
  circumstances or other duties being
                                                  perceived as mainly due to unintentional
  performed by the caregiver at the time of
                                                  ingestion by young children, a significant
  the poisoning.
                                                  number of poisonings are also due to
                                                  adolescent suicide attempts, via over-
· In 2002 in the United Kingdom almost            doses of narcotics and psychodysleptics
  31,500 children under 15 years of age           (hallucinogens)3.
  went to the hospital because of a sus-
· Carbon monoxide, an odourless and                carbon monoxide poisoning to its pres-
  colourless gas that is produced during any       ence. Persons with these detectors are
  combustion process, is also a cause of           less likely to become symptomatic from
  poisoning. The symptoms of carbon                the exposure than those who do not have
  monoxide poisoning are similar to early          these detectors in the home15.
  signs of the flu and include: fatigue, chest
  pain in people with heart disease, head-       · Poison Control Centre and Hotline – in
  ache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, and          the United States it has been shown that
  impaired vision and coordination. Carbon         for every dollar spent on poison control
  monoxide poisoning can be fatal at high          services an estimated $7 was saved in
  concentrations and it is estimated that in       medical care payments by reducing the
  the United Kingdom carbon monoxide               number of medically treated poisonings11.
  from furnaces and heaters is responsible         The savings per poisoning call were $175.
  for almost a death a week in the winter10.
                                                 Recommended Policy Actions
· Total medical spending for the treatment
  of poisonings in the United States is          Legislation
  estimated at $3 billion a year with an
  average of $925 spent per case11.              · For the European Commission to monitor
                                                   and enforce European Union policy requir-
Prevention Effectiveness                           ing Member States to adopt and enforce
                                                   the compulsory use of child resistant
There is increasing evidence that the follow-      packaging for pharmaceutical products
ing measures to prevent poisonings in              such as children’s aspirin and paraceta-
children should be implemented, enforced           mol preparations, as well as for non-
and communicated to the European public:           pharmaceutical products.

· Child resistant packaging - introduction       · For the European Commission to encour-
  of regulations enforcing the compulsory          age the adoption of modified building code
  use of child resistant packaging for all         regulations in Member States to require
  children’s aspirin and paracetamol prepa-        new buildings to provide a lockable stor-
  rations led to a dramatic fall in the number     age cabinet in each apartment or home,
  of children admitted to hospital with unin-      as well as carbon monoxide monitors.
  tentional poisoning as a result of these
  medications in England, The Netherlands        EU Collaboration
  and the United States. This type of pack-
  aging would also be beneficial for specific    · For the European Commission to support
  non-pharmaceutical products12.                   a European campaign on the topic of child
                                                   poisoning prevention which delivers key,
· Safe storage - placing household clean-          consistent messages across Europe about
  ers, chemicals and medications in a              the use of and safe storage of cleaners
  locked storage cabinet or using child            and chemicals in convenient and lockable
  protective products to lock the cupboards        units, the importance of child resistant
  and drawers have been an effective               packaging, as well as improve the com-
  means of preventing poisoning13.                 munity’s awareness of poison dangers.

· Education - a school and parent educa-         · For poison centres in Europe to standard-
  tion campaign to make toxic household            ise and link their data on poisoning inju-
  products less accessible to children,            ries in order to make recent statistics
  accompanied by media to promote pur-             available and detailed.
  chasing and using safer products and
  locked cabinets resulted in a 66% de-          · For industry to have child poisoning pre-
  crease in admissions to the emergency            vention in mind when designing products
  department for 0 – 5 year olds compared          so that products are not attractive to
  with two pre-intervention years and to           children and are more resistant to access
  control comparison sites14.                      by children.

· Monitoring of air quality - carbon mon-
  oxide detectors with audible alarms are
  effective in alerting potential victims of

                             1. The global burden of disease: 2004 update         13. Harbourview Injury Prevention and Research
                                Geneva, World Health Organization, 2008               Center/Cochrane Collaboration, Systematic
                                (http://www.who.int/healthinfo/                       Review Database. Seattle, University of
                                global_burden_disease/2004_report_update/             Washington, 2001.
                                en/index.html, accessed 10 November 2008).
                                                                                  14. Fisher L. Community based interventions-less
                             2. World Health Organisation, World Health Or-           than perfect? Inj Prev 2004; 10:255
                                ganisation Mortality Database. Geneva: World
                                Health Organisation. Accessed May 18, 2005.       15. Krenzelok E, Roth R, Full R. Carbon monox-
                                http://www.who.int/whosis, 2003.                      ide...the silent killer with an audible solution.
                                                                                      Am J Emerg Med 1996; 14(5):484-6.
                             3. National SAFE KIDS Campaign (NSKC). Poi-
                                soning Fact Sheet. Washington (DC): NSKC,                                    (Printed October 2009)

                             4. Confederation of European Specialists in
                                Paediatrics. EURECAAP survey: European
                                Evaluation of Children’s and Adolescents’
                                Accidents Prevention Policies. Luxembourg,

                             5. Consumer Safety Institute, Warning: - Poison-
                                ing Factsheet 0-5 year olds. Amsterdam: Con-
                                sumer Safety Institute. Accessed September
                                20, 2005. http://www.childsafetyeurope.org/

                             6. Northeast Injury Prevention Network Poison
                                Data Book, Children's Safety Network Eco-
                                nomics and Data Analysis Resource Center,

                             7. Child Accident Prevention Trust, 2004, Fact-
                                sheet: Poisonings. London: Child Accident
                                Prevention Trust. Accessed May 22, 2005.

                             8. Petridou E, Polychronopoulou A, Kouri N, et
                                al. Childhood poisonings from ingestion of
                                cigarettes. Lancet. 1995 Nov 11;346

                             9. D'Alessandro D, Huth L, 2002, Pediatrics
                                Common Questions, Quick Answers. How to
                                Prevent Poisoning. Virtual Children’s Hospital.
                                Accessed May 21, 2005. http://www.vh.org/

                             10. Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents,
                                 1998, Press Release Carbon Monoxide Warn-
                                 ing For Winter. Accessed May 21, 2005.

                             11. Miller T, Lestina D. Costs of poisoning in the
                                 United States and savings from poison control
                                 centers: a benefit-cost analysis. Ann Emerg
                                 Med 1997; 29(2):239-45.

                             12. Vincenten J, Farquhar B. A guide to child
                                 safety regulations and standards in Europe.
                                 Amsterdam, ECOSA, 2003.

The European Child Safety Alliance is a Programme of EuroSafe and is hosted by the Consumer Safety Institute in the Netherlands

               PO Box 75169 1070 AD Amsterdam The Netherlands Tel. +31 20 511 45 13 Fax +31 20 511 45 10
                            secretariat@childsafetyeurope.org http://www.childsafetyeurope.org

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