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September 29, 1956


JAMA. 1956;162(5):454-459. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02970220018005

• The possibility of preventing accidental poisoning (by chemicals other than illuminating gas) was studied by analyzing 454 cases that occurred in children under the age of 16 in New York City in 1954. Drugs were responsible for 47% of all poisonings, with aspirin ranking first and barbiturates second in this category. Among other chemicals, household bleaches were the chief offenders. Of the total of 454 cases, 84 % occurred in children of the 0-3 year age group, and in this group lead was the responsible substance in 87% of the cases. Investigation of the circumstances generally revealed certain household practices as being at fault; in some environments the careless handling of materials, poor choice of storage places, and reckless changing of containers made eventual poisoning so likely that it could hardly be called accidental. Sanitary inspectors obtained valuable information, and visits by public health nurses proved effective in eliminating hazards. The physician can provide considerable health education during office visits, but he can also do much by observing existing health hazards during his home visits.