Role of a Poison Center in Reducing Unintentional Childhood Ingestion by Targeting Pre-Event Risk Factors

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Unintentional poisoning is a frequent presentation in the pediatric emergency care settings. We sought to determine the current incidence of unintentional poison ingestions in children who present to the emergency care in the city of Al Ain in United Arab Emirates, to create a profile of the products ingested, and to compare our data with a previous study conducted before the inception of a poison and drug information center.


We reviewed all cases of unintentional poisoning in children 10 years or younger, who presented at 2 tertiary level emergency care centers during January-December 2010. Two hundred cases met our inclusion criteria. Data on demographics, type and amount of noxious substance ingested, time of presentation, and outcomes were collected. Annual incidence was estimated, and data were compared with the previous study.


The annual incidence of unintentional poisoning in the UAE is 2.35 per 1000 children 10 years or younger. The incidence is decreasing, especially for household chemical ingestions. The incidence is twice as high among native Emirati children compared with expatriate children. There was an increase in cosmetics- and synthetic hormone-related poisonings, as well as in the involvement of younger infants.


The incidence of unintentional pediatric poisoning in the UAE is decreasing particularly in household chemical ingestions. Targeted health promotion campaigns by the poison center may have led to this drop. The sociological, environmental, and cultural factors that might be contributing to the greater use of emergency care in native children should be investigated.

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