Drug-Related Poisonings Highest in Young Children

Poisonings with suicidal intent seen most often in young women

MONDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Emergency department visits for unintentional drug-related poisonings in the United States are highest among children age 0 to 5 and more prominent in rural areas, and young women have the highest rate of drug-related poisonings with suicidal intent, according to research published online March 3 in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Yuxi Xiang, of the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues examined data on the estimated 699,123 drug-related poisonings resulting in emergency department visits in 2007 from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample to describe the characteristics of such visits in the United States.

The researchers found that the highest rate of unintentional drug-related poisoning occurred in children 0 to 5 years old (237 per 100,000 in boys and 218 per 100,000 in girls). Drug-related poisonings were three times higher in rural areas (684 per 100,000) than in other locations. In 43.7 percent of all drug-related poisonings, psychotropic and analgesic medications were the responsible agents. Women aged 18 to 20 accounted for the highest rate of emergency department visits for suicidal poisoning (245 per 100,000). The total estimated emergency department charges for drug-related poisoning were $1,394,051,262.

"Antidepressants and analgesics were responsible for nearly 44 percent of emergency department visits for drug-related poisoning in the United States. Interventions and future research should target prescription opioids, rural areas, children 0 to 5 years old for unintentional drug-related poisoning, and female ages 12 to 24 years for suicidal drug-related poisoning," the authors write.

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