A retrospective analysis of the poisoning calls received by the National Poisons Information Centre (NPIC) showed a total of 2,720 calls during a period of three years (April 1999-March 2002). Poisoning in children was reported in 995 calls (36.6%). The age ranged from less than 1 yr to 18 yr and the age groups involved were divided into four categories (0-6 yr, >6-12 yr, >12-16 yr, >16-18 yr). The most vulnerable age group included children from less than one year to 6 yr old. Males outnumbered females (M=628, F=367). Although the accidental mode was the commonest (79.7%), intentional attempts were also noticed (20.2%) in the >12-16 yr and >16-18 yr age groups. In the majority of cases, the route was oral (96.8%) followed by dermal exposure (3.2%) comprising bites and stings. Various types of agents belonged to classes of household products (47.0%), drugs (21.8%), industrial chemicals (7.9%), agricultural pesticides (9.1%), bites and stings (3.2%), plants (1.5%), miscellaneous products (5.3%) and unknown products (4.0%). The incidence of poisoning was highest due to household products comprising mainly pyrethroids, parad/thermometer mercury, rodenticides, phenyl, detergents and corrosives, etc. Poisoning due to drugs mainly included anticonvulsants, thyroid hormones, benzodiazepines, analgesics and oral contraceptives. Among the agricultural pesticides aluminium phosphide was the most commonly consumed, followed by organochlorines and organophosphates, etc. Paint thinners were common among industrial chemicals. Bites and stings were mainly snake bites and scorpion stings. Poisoning due to plants was low and Datura was commonly ingested. Although these data may not give an exact picture of the incidence rate in our country, due to underreporting of calls to the Centre and because the actual incidence might be higher or even variable, but they do give the trend in India, indicating that a strong emphasis should be placed on a prevention campaign which can at least reduce the occurrence of accidental pediatric poisoning.
2003 by the Japan Society for Occupational Health