Research Article

Accidental poisoning deaths in British children 1958-77.

Br Med J 1980; 280 doi: (Published 28 June 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;280:1595
  1. N C Fraser


    In the 20 years 1958-77 598 deaths were registered as due to accidental poisoning in British children under the age of 10-343 boys and 255 girls. Drugs caused 484 deaths, non-medicinal products 111, and plants three. The annual number of deaths reached a peak in 1964 but fell steadily thereafter; 16 deaths occurred in 1977. After 1970 tricyclic antidepressants replaced salicylates as the most commonly fatal poison. The next ten drugs most often recorded in 1970-7 were, in order, opiates (including diphenoxylate/atropine (Lomotil)), barbiturates, digoxin, orphenadrine (Disipal), quinine, potassium, iron, fenfluramine (Ponderax), antihistamines, and phenothiazines. In 20 years paracetamol caused one death, and before 1976 deaths caused by aspirin had fallen to fewer than two a year. Thus the introduction in 1976 and 1977 of safety packaging of these drugs can be expected to have little impact on the mortality from them in childhood.