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Jornal de Pediatria

Print version ISSN 0021-7557On-line version ISSN 1678-4782


BUCARETCHI, Fábio  and  BARACAT, Emílio C. E.. Acute toxic exposure in children: an overview. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2005, vol.81, n.5, suppl., pp.s212-s222. ISSN 0021-7557.

OBJECTIVE: To review the literature on acute toxic exposure in children, excluding envenomations. SOURCES OF DATA: MEDLINE review (emphasis on the past decade), including the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology and the European Association of Poison Centres and Clinical Toxicologists' position statements and position papers (peer-reviewed information based on scientific evidence and broad consensus) on gastrointestinal decontamination, multiple-dose activated charcoal and urine alkalinization. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS: Acute toxic exposure in children is a common event, mainly in children under six years of age. Death is rare. Although widely employed, there is no evidence that gastrointestinal decontamination and multiple-dose activated charcoal improve the outcome of poisoned patients. Very few efficient antidotes are used on a consistent basis, and some of them are very expensive and not available in Brazil. CONCLUSIONS: Ipecac syrup and cathartics should not be administered on a routine basis in acute toxic exposures in outpatient treatment. Excluding the contraindications, single-dose activated charcoal and gastric lavage may be considered within one hour of ingestion if a patient ingested a potentially toxic amount or a potentially lethal amount, respectively. Whole bowel irrigation, multiple-dose activated charcoal and urine alkalinization may be considered in a few situations. Fomepizole and octreotide are safe and efficient antidotes, which can be used in the treatment of alcohol (methanol and ethylene glycol) and sulfonylureas poisoning, respectively.

Keywords : Poisoning; gastrointestinal decontamination; charcoal; antidotes; children.

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