Non-accidental poisoning in the paediatric age group is rare and international literature on this subject is limited. The objective of the current study was to explore the predisposing factors and profile of children less than 12 years in rural Sri Lanka who had non-accidental poisoning.
This descriptive study was conducted at Anuradhapura teaching hospital for two years involving all children below 12 years. Quantitative data were collected using structured questionnaires and qualitative data were collected via focused group discussions.
Nineteen children with non-accidental poisoning were recruited among 383 acute poisoning admissions over two years. The majority of children were male – 13 (68.4%). Children mostly ingested pesticides (9/14- 64.3 per cent) followed by plant poisons and medicinal poisons. No child was reported to have ingested household chemicals including kerosene oil intentionally. Children with non-accidental self-poisoning often had acute psychological distress and an immediate preceding event which resulted in the poisoning event. Verbal abuse by parents, poor family relationships, psychiatric disorders in children and emotional disturbances were often predisposing factors. Four children had morbidity secondary to aspiration pneumonia, respiratory arrest, and cardiac arrhythmias. Case fatality rate was 14.3% among children non-accidental self-poisoning.
Non-accidental poisoning in the paediatric age group is associated with high mortality and the risk factors are multitude. These predisposing factors need to be further evaluated through community based studies.