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The majority of calls to poison control centers involve children younger than 5 years of age. Fortunately, children account for a minority of serious poisonings requiring emergency hospital treatment. Most common childhood ingestions involve nontoxic substances or nontoxic doses of potentially toxic drugs or products (See Nontoxic or Minimally Toxic Household Products). Table I–43 lists important causes of serious or fatal childhood poisoning, which include iron supplements (See Iron); tricyclic antidepressants (See Antidepressants, Tricyclic); cardiovascular medications such as digitalis (See Digoxin and Other Cardiac Glycosides), beta receptor antagonists (See Beta-Adrenergic Blockers), or calcium antagonists (See Calcium Channel Antagonists); methyl salicylate (See Salicylates); and hydrocarbons (See Hydrocarbons).

Table I-43 Examples of Potent Pediatric Poisonsa

  1. High-risk populations. Two age groups are commonly involved in pediatric poisonings: children between 1 and 5 years of age and adolescents.

    1. Ingestions in toddlers and young children usually result from oral exploration. Unintentional ingestion in children younger than 6 months of age or between the ages of 5 and adolescence is rare. In young infants, consider the possibility of intentional administration by an older child or adult. In school-age children, suspect abuse or neglect as a reason for the ingestion, and in adolescents, suspect a suicide attempt.

    2. In adolescents and young adults, overdoses are usually suicidal but may also result from drug abuse or experimentation. Common underlying reasons for adolescents' suicide attempts include pregnancy; sexual, physical, or mental abuse; school failure; conflict with peers; conflict with homosexual orientation; a sudden or severe loss; and alcoholism or illicit drug use. Any adolescent who makes a suicide attempt or gesture needs ...

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