The frequency and distribution of acute intoxications and poisoning from non-pharmacological substances in children was evaluated in this observational-descriptive study. This was done by analyzing all admissions to the Emergency Room of our University in Rome during the period 1st January 2001 to 31st December 2012. We found 249 patients aged 0-14 years: 147 males and 102 females. The highest incidence occurred in the first 4 years of life: 44.2% in the 1-2 year age-group. Cases were mostly related to solvents (44.6%), natural products (17.7%), agricultural products (12.9%), corrosive acids and alkaline caustics (14.8%). Most admissions occurred during the time slot 18:00 to 21:00 (23.7%). No clinical symptoms were observed in 116 children (46.6% of the total), and physical examination was unrevealing. The remaining 133 displayed nausea/vomiting (22%) and pharyngeal hyperemia (18.8%). Laboratory tests and imaging studies were only performed in selected cases. In terms of consulting requests, the Poisons Center was contacted 156 times (62.6% of cases), the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit 38 times (15.2%), and the surgeon-endoscopist 18 times (7.2%). A short period of observation and monitoring in the Emergency Room was warranted in 106 children (42.5%). Gastroprotective drugs were used in 75 cases (30.1%) and activated charcoal in 18 (7.2%). Nintey-five children (38.2%) were admitted to the pediatric department , but no complications occurred. Targeted information programs in schools and during pediatric check-ups should decrease the risk of ingestion of non-pharmacological substances in children, and the costs of its management.
Key words: intoxication, poisoning, child