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April 21, 1956


JAMA. 1956;160(16):1410. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02960510036012

The accidental ingestion of kerosene by children is the most common cause of poisoning in the South. Bain1 states that petroleum products were responsible for 25% of the deaths of children under 5 years of age in the United States during 1949 and 1950. The regional death rate for 12 southern states for accidental poisoning in children under 5 years was 1.41 per 100,000 for petroleum products. This is nearly four times the rate for acetylsalicylic and salicylic acid poisoning.

McNally2 recently reviewed major findings in 204 patients who had ingested kerosene who were admitted to City Hospital, Mobile, Ala., from 1946 through 1954. Ages ranged from 8 to 60 months, with an average of 20.5 months. Abject parental carelessness was responsible for all of these poisonings. Kerosene was left in glasses, cups, and beverage bottles easily accessible to the children, who had previous opportunities to drink from

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