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Paediatric Toxicology

B2.1 Paediatric Poisoning in Hong Kong –
What Are the Culprits and Who Are the Killers?

Dr Chi-keung Chan
Associate Consultant,
Hong Kong Poison Information Centre

Dr Chi-keung Chan graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong in 1995. He obtained fellowship in the Hong Kong College of Emergency Medicine since 2004. He worked in the Hong Kong Poison Information Centre since its establishment in 2005. He was admitted to be the First Fellow in Clinical Toxicology in Hong Kong in 2016 and he is currently a specialist in clinical toxicology registered in the Medical Council of Hong Kong.

Poisoning is an important and avoidable cause of mortality and morbidity in children. Hong Kong Poison Information Centre (HKPIC) has published a reported on the local epidemiology of paediatric poisoning in 2011, summarizing data from 6 regional hospitals during 2005-2008. Similar to overseas report of paediatric poisoning, data from Hong Kong showed a bimodal pattern of age distribution, with peak incidence occurred at 1 to 4 years old and after 12 years old. Younger kids are typically the victims of accidental poisoning, with male dominance and favourable outcome. Teenagers have poisoning pattern similar to young adults, with deliberate self-harm and recreational drugs use being the most common causes of poisoning. Female dominance and occasional fatal consequences are observed in teenagers poisoning. The overall case fatality rate was 0.3% at that time.

Ten years have passed and it is time to re-visit the topic. With the development in internet, smartphone and widespread use of surveillance camera in past 10 years, is our kids getting safer or worse? Can accidental poisoning be prevented before it happens? Have we refrained from storing dangerous chemicals in our home? Are medications getting safer even in intentional overdose?

Basic descriptive epidemiology of paediatric poisoning in Hong Kong based on HKPIC data in past 10 years will be presented, followed by illustrative cases with important poisoning safety information for doctors and general public.

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