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March 1966

Parathion Poisoning in a Young Infant

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Tulane University Medical School and Charity Hospital of Louisiana at New Orleans.

Am J Dis Child. 1966;111(3):321-323. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1966.02090060131020

DURING World War II, it was found that parathion (O-O-diethyl O-p-nitrophenyl phosphothionate), in spite of its biological ability to produce respiratory paralysis, had neither the volatility, or solubility required of a war gas.1 This low volatility and solubility (together with its low cost) has popularized this substance as an insecticide, since the essential enzyme it interferes with is common to all animals including insects.

Toddlers have been known to ingest this poison and young children can readily absorb toxic amounts through the skin of their hands and feet. Numerous accidental poisonings have occurred as a result of skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion,3-8 often in children old enough to be ambulatory or to feed themselves. Toivonen,9 in 1951, commented on the increasing use of parathion as an agent in suicides. Seifert,10 reported on infanticide of a 9-week-old-baby who was given two or three drops of

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