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February 1955


Author Affiliations

Philadelphia; Boston
From the Departments of Pediatrics, Physiological Chemistry, and Research Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

AMA Am J Dis Child. 1955;89(2):149-158. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1955.02050110191003

SALICYLATES are now among the commoner causes of poisoning in small children, due either to overdosage during treatment of infections or to accidental ingestion. Methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen) is especially dangerous because of its appetizing odor and the ease with which a large dose can be ingested. One teaspoon is about equivalent in salicylate content to 12 ordinary acetylsalicylic acid tablets and much easier to swallow. Since methyl salicylate locally is of questionable value therapeutically, it would be best to avoid its use in homes where there are small children. Lower degrees of acetylsalicylic acid poisoning in infants are probably commoner than is realized, due to overdosage.

A general concept of salicylate poisoning can be developed from clinical and experimental data now available, the main outline of which is as follows: In the previously healthy person the first effect of ingestion or injection is hyperventilation. As a result, CO