Causes & Admissions


  • Common household drugs and medicines account for 63% of poisonings and are easily the leading cause of a young child being admitted to hospital.

  • Aromatic analgesics including paracetamol were the most common agent of poisoning amongst preschoolers admitted to hospital in Australia.

  • Pharmaceuticals such as anticoagulant medications, tranquillisers, barbiturates and antipsychotic and neuroepileptic medications were the more important agents in terms of health burden.

  • Paracetamol is among the substances most frequently listed in telephone enquiries or attendances for suspected overdoses in infants. This is probably attributed to the fact that paracetamol is one of the most frequently used medicines for infants in the home.

  • Poisonings are the second leading cause of injury admissions to hospital for children 0-4 and typically involve a prescription drug or an OTC (over-the-counter) product.

  • Each year around 500 hundred children under 5 are admitted to hospital overnight or longer as a result of poisoning.

  • Poisonings account for 13% of injury hospitalisations overnight or longer for children 0-4. this figure increases to 16% if day admissions are included.

  • Although the average hospital stay for a child that has been poisoned is 1.3 days, some of these injuries result in lifelong consequences.


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