U.S. Poison Control Center Calls for Infants 0-6 Months Old

This article concerned a retrospective study on poison control center calls about infants aged 0 to 6 months.  The study used data from the National Poison Data System that combines all the electronic records of all the United States Poison Control Centers.  The study was conducted to explore the reason behind the majority of poison center calls made for infants in the first six months of their lives.  Infants at that stage of development have very little mobility, reducing the possibility of poisoning by exploration, a common cause for poisoning of infants and toddlers older than six months of age.  This rationale would indicate that poisoning caused by a mistake of a caregiver is more common in younger infants than it is in infants and toddlers older than six months of age.  Many programs for young parents that address the issue of poisoning focus on the need to keep dangerous substances out of reach of children, but the instances of caregiver mistakes in poisoning events of infants 0-6 months old would not be prevented by keeping medicines inaccessible to the infants.  Also, most of these programs do not begin poison education before children reach six months of age anyways.  The results of the study presented a couple key takeaways.  One of the results was that 97.5% of poisoning events for this age group originated in people’s homes, whereas only 85.2% of the phone calls made about these events originated in people’s homes, with others originating from health care facilities, meaning some caregivers travelled to a health care facility before contacting a Poison Control Center.  Additionally, the percentage of calls made for unintentional poisonings by the caregiver for this early infant age range was a large proportion of the total poisonings for this age range, of which there were numerous recorded over the 10-year (2004-2013) period of the study.

I believe that early education of parents about the resource of Poison Control Centers and about how to properly use medications in infants would prevent many of the poisoning events that occur in the age group of infants 0-6 months old.  The study also concluded that increased education concerning PCC’s and proper infant medical care to parents before they leave the nursery at the hospital would eradicate many of the poisoning occurrences in this age group.  What do you think the best approach to reducing poisoning of infants aged 0-6 months in the United States is?

Kang AM, Brooks DE. US Poison Control Center Calls for Infants 6 Months of Age and Younger. Pediatrics. 2016;137:1-7.

Link to Article