Secular Trends in Poisonings Leading to Hospital Admission among Finnish Children and Adolescents between 1971 and 2005

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To investigate the secular trends in childhood poisonings leading to hospitalization in Finland.

Study design

All children and adolescents age 0 to 19 years hospitalized in Finland with the primary diagnosis of poisoning between 1971 and 2005 were identified using the International Classification of Diseases.


During the study period, there were 41 862 hospitalizations with 96 427 hospital bed days for poisoning in 38 582 children and adolescents. The incidence of hospitalization declined from 91.3 admissions per 100 000 person-years in boys and 105.2 per person-years in girls in 1971 to 64.8 in boys and 83.5 in girls in 2005. In the 0- to 4-year age group, admissions declined by 51%. Hospitalizations for alcohol poisoning increased 1.7-fold (95% confidence interval = 1.4 to 2.2) in boys and 2.4-fold (95% confidence interval = 1.8 to 3.3) in girls. Alcohol poisoning was the primary diagnosis in 53% of those in the 10- to 14-year age group.


Poisoning remains an important cause of morbidity in Finnish children and adolescents despite the decreased overall incidence of poisonings leading to hospitalization between 1971 and 2005. The increasing trend of hospital admissions for alcohol poisoning, especially in 10- to 14-year-olds, is noteworthy. Effective primary prevention programs and adult supervision should be targeted at reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related poisonings in youth.

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