Kerosene poisoning in childhood: a 6-year prospective study at the Princess Rahmat Teaching Hospital.

PURPOSE: Poisoning due to drugs is influenced to a large extent by the population's socioeconomic and cultural status. The purpose of our study was to determine and present the pattern of poisoning with kerosene in Princess Rahmat hospital, Irbid, Jordan, and to assess the effects of variables such as age, season, sex and agent on poisoning frequency in Princess Rahmat hospital, northern Jordan.

METHODS: This retrospective cross-sectional study was performed on 122 cases of poisoning with kerosene who were hospitalized in Princess Rahmat hospital, northern Jordan, during a six-year period from 1996 to 2001. The data collected include: age, sex, seasonal variation, material ingested, symptomatic or not on admission, time and place of ingestion, history of similar problem among the patient or his siblings, whether vomiting was induced by the parent before seeking medical help or not and the outcome regarding mortality and morbidity. Chi-square and values were considered for the statistical analysis.

RESULTS: In a 6-year prospective study of kerosene poisoning in children admitted to the Rahmat Hospital, between January 1996 and December 2001, a total of 122 children (under 11 years of age). Among the children 48 (39.3%) were girls and 74 (60.6%) were boys. Majority (80.1%) were below 2 years. The largest group of patients was admitted during the summer months. The most commonly observed symptoms were cough (67.2%), tachypnea (56.5%), fever (54.1%), and vomiting (27.8%). About one third of the patients showed signs of central nervous system (CNS) impairment, including drowsiness, restlessness, stupor, and convulsions.

CONCLUSIONS: 1) There is a higher risk of kerosene poisoning during the hot months of the year; 2) the respiratory system is the main target organ affected; 3) pneumonia is in most cases interstitial and bilateral; 4) vomiting after hydrocarbon ingestion is related to the rate of development of pneumonia; 5) symptoms of CNS impairment were correlated with hypoxemia, pneumonia, and fever; and 6) CNS toxicity may occur without hypoxemia, concurrent pulmonary pathology, or other pathology.

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