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April 1961

Communications from the national National Clearinghouse for Poison Control Centers: Camphor

Author Affiliations

National Clearinghouse for Poison Control Centers, Accident Prevention Program, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Am J Dis Child. 1961;101(4):536-537. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1961.04020050126019

Poisoning from the accidental ingestion of camphor preparations has been reported for almost half a century. Benz1 reported 20 such cases in 1919, and Craig2 in 1953 reported 12 childhood deaths in Great Britain from camphor poisoning over a 20-year period.

Camphor is a member of a group of hydroaromatic substances called "terpenes" and is both obtained naturally and prepared synthetically.3 It is presently used in a number of topical preparations where its therapeutic use is chiefly one of local irritation.4

Camphor poisoning is still a problem in the United States, according to reports received by the National Clearinghouse for Poison Control Centers. The product most commonly ingested is camphorated oil (20% camphor), but several common liniments also contain camphor. In the 2-year period, 1958-1959, 185 ingestions were reported, 134 of which were known to be by children under 5 years old. In the 97 cases

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