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September 2, 1974

Acute Iron Intoxication in an Adult

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and the Montefiore Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pa. Dr. Wallack is now at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 1974;229(10):1333-1334. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230480049030

ACUTE poisoning from the ingestion of iron salts is common in children; there are more than 2,000 cases annually, with a mortality in untreated patients as high as 45%.1 However, acute intoxication is rarely seen in adults. There are only two previously reported cases; in both, the ingestion proved fatal.1,2 In the present case, an overdose of ferrous sulfate, taken in an apparent suicidal gesture, resulted in a moderately severe toxic reaction to iron. The illness progressed through classic stages similar to those noted in children. Of particular interest was a hitherto-unreported electrocardiographic abnormality: deep inversions of precordial T waves. These changes probably represent one of the many metabolic alterations resulting from iron poisoning.

Report of a Case  A 24-year-old black woman was admitted to Montefiore Hospital, University of Pittsburgh Health Center, following an apparent suicide attempt in which she ingested a large dose of ferrous sulfate. She