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Letters to the Editor

Indian Pediatrics 1999; 36:415-416

Deaths Due to Poisoning in Children

Poisoning is one of the common emergency in pediatrics. Very few studies have 'been conducted on deaths due to poisoning in children. Poisoning is responsible for more than 25% of accidental deaths in 1 to 15 years age group(1). Hospital based studies conducted in India indicate that poisoning is the cause of 0.3 to 7.6% of total admissions and is responsible. for 0.6% of total deaths during childhood(2).

Almost 75% of the episodes of accidental poisoning in children are caused by household substances in the form of dyes, cosmetics, creams and toiIetries(3). In developing countries like India poverty, ignorance and lack of storage facilities make safe keeping of these substances difficult.

The present study was conducted on the subjects brought with clinical history of intake of poison and who later underwent postmortem examination between the years 1992-95. A detailed history from a reliable informant and the clinical records, along with the post- mortem reports of these patients were examined. During the period of 4 years, 2534 autopsies were conducted by the department, out of which 268 were with the history of intake of poison and 24 were children between the age group of 0-16 years.

In the present study, poisoning cases were found to be the maximum in 12 to 16 years age group (50%) as reported in other Indian studies( 4,5). The reason for this might be that the child is more active and starts suffering from stress and strains of life in this age group and is thus prone to suicidal tendencies. There were 18 boys and 6 girls. Fifty per cent of the cases died within 6 hours of intake of poison, and all the children died within 3 days of in- take of poison. In this study, maximum cases had aluminium phosphide/sulphos intake followed by contaminated or ppisonous food. This has also been reported earlier(5).

The present study helps to interpret the trends of poisoning in children. Efforts should be made to educate the parents and the society to keep the toxic household items including drugs safely.

N.K. Aggarwal,
 M.S. Bhatia*,
B.B.L. Agarwal,

Departments of Forensic
Medicine and Psychiatry*,
U.C.M.S. and G.T.B. Hospital,
Dilshad Garden. Delhi] 10 095. India.



1.  Maragos GO. Pediatric Emergencies in the Ambulatorium. Delhi, Interprint, 1980, pp 75- 90.

2.  Bhandari B. Accidental poisoning in children. Indian Pediatr 1981; 18: 153-155.

3. Khandpur SC. Kumar A. Medical Emergencies in Children. Delhi, Sagar Publications, 1988; pp 267-278.

4. Tandon SK. Qureshi GU. Pandey ON, Agarwal A. A profile of poisoning cases admitted in S.N. Medical College and Hospital, Agra. J Forens Med Toxicol1996; 13: 10-12.

5. Vaswani V, Patil YD. Spectrum of childhood poisoning: A Belgaum experience. J Forens Med Toxico11998; 14: 50-52.


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