May 1960

Accidental Poisoning in Young Children—The Hazards of Iron Medication

Author Affiliations

Washington, D.C.
National Clearinghouse for Poison Control Centers, Accident Prevention Program, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

AMA Am J Dis Child. 1960;99(5):688-691. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1960.02070030690019

Although iron is a useful therapeutic agent it can cause serious poisoning and death. Published accounts of accidental iron poisoning in young children are increasing (a recent annotated bibliography1 lists 80 references to iron toxicity), and a 50% mortality rate has been reported. Iron medication has caused 3 of the 60 accidental poisoning deaths which have been reported to the National Clearinghouse; acetylsalicylic acid caused 4 of the 60 deaths. Nonfatal iron ingestions have been accounting for less than 1%, while nonfatal acetylsalicylic acid ingestions have been accounting for about 20% of all poisoning accidents reported to this office.

This relatively high death rate has prompted the following presentation of three fatal and two nonfatal cases of iron poisoning.

Report of Cases  Case 1.—An 18-month-old boy ingested an unknown amount of ferrous sulfate tablets. After spontaneous vomiting, the stomach was lavaged (36 to 48 hours after ingestion), and the

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