Kiddy Tox

25 February, 2012 by: colinparker

Post to Twitter

Fortunately for us, younger kids are less dedicated in their efforts to harm themselves with a variety of poisons… On the other hand, their sneaky inventiveness knows no bounds, when it comes to getting hold of something that they shouldn’t.

The principles of Clinical Toxicology are similar in kids and adults, but there are a few additional aspects to consider. Join us on a sketch of assessment and management of the poisoned child… or the potentially poisoned child.

Paeds Tox PEMcast: Outline

[cp] Welcome, intro, disclaimer
80,000 calls to Australian Poisons Information Centre per year regarding paediatric unintentional exposures

[sf] Pharmacokinetic / Toxicokinetic differences in kids:
Different body composition – affects volume of distribution
Higher metabolic rate
Immature liver enzymes (& not induced by alcohol and other recreational substances)
However same mg/kg toxic effects for most agents
Actual agent involved is probably most important factor
Remember that venomous animals do not respect size of their victim…

[KH] 2 types of poisoning in kids:
Toddlers: exploratory, unaware of risks,
usually spit out pills (unpleasant taste) or only sip / mouthful of liquid agent
Teenagers: deliberate self-poisoning, serious intent

[sf] Household exposures – call poisons info centre
Most household exposures non-toxic, including:

  • thermometer mercury
  • Oral Contraceptive Pill
  • cosmetic products
  • paint
  • matches
  • cigarette butts (?nicotine)

[cp] ‘One pill can kill’ list:
Airway & Breathing (CNS, RS, muscles):

Circulation (CVS):

calcium channel blockers (SR)

Disability (CNS):
(hydroxy) chloroquine
organophosphate & carbamate insecticides
hydrcarbons (solvents, eucalyptus oil, kerosene)

Metabolic / other:

[KH] Agents NOT on this list (but can still cause toxicity in sufficient dose):

  • paracetamol
  • iron
  • colchicine
  • anticoagulant rat poison

[sf] Adolescent Deliberate Self-Poisoning
Intent vs lethality (not always congruent)
Common agents – OTC medications (Paracetamol), own meds, Parents meds (FHx of psychiatric illness, nature & nurture)

[cp] Acute Management template: “R RSI DEAD”
A, B, C
Sugar, seizures, shivering:
hypoglycaemia 5ml/kg of 10% dextrose
seizures: benzodiazepines
hyperthermia – intubation & paralysis; hypothermia: external warming
(emergency antidotes) eg bicarb for TCA, naloxone for opiates

[KH] Risk assessment:
Clinical effects & evolving features
Patient factors (co-morbidities, weight)
Hampered by incomplete history (unwitnessed ingestions/exposure) and different range of medications in children

[sf] Tips for Tox Detectives:
Agent: Include all agents in the house, and at grandparents, other places where child has been; contact GP, pharmacy for parents’ meds; Ambos (counting empty packets), proprietary pharmaceutical product indexes (pill colours, shape, inscriptions)
Dose: assume maximum dose (taken by both/all siblings)
Timing: assume worst-case scenario based on possible earliest & latest times

[cp] Acute Management template: “R RSI DEAD”
Risk assessment
Supportive care & monitoring

  • blood sugar
  • ECG
  • paracetamol level

[cp/KH both]:
Decontamination (induced emesis, gastric lavage, activated charcoal, whole bowel irrigation)
Enhanced elimination (repeat-dose activated charcoal, dialysis/filtration, urinary alkalinisation – specific agents for each) charcoal heamoperfusion
Antidotes – small role
Disposition (medical and psychosocial)

[sf] Toddler Mystery Pill Ingestion management:
Admit & observe 12 hrs +
Monitor vital signs, GCS, blood sugar, specific signs depending on agent
IV access if & when toxicity manifests
Cardiac monitoring depending on agent
Home in daylight hours only

[KH] Risk Assessment over a Thousand Miles?

[KH] Agents where treatment different from adults:
Agents causing bradycardia

[all] Summary

Shout-outs to:
Perth Toxicologists a-plenty…
LITFL Crew @sandnsurf @antidoped
TPR – The Poison Review @poisonreview


Toxicology Handbook – Lindsay Murray, Frank Daly, Mark Little, Mike Cadogan
2nd Edition (esp Chapter 1 and pg 120-125)

Australian Poisons Information Centre: Freecall 13 11 26 (Australia)

Post to Twitter



3 Responses to “Kiddy Tox”
  1. SD says:


    In regards to all of your podcasts (not specifically this one),
    I love the topics and content so much that I wish I could listen to a whole podcast. Unfortunately, the sound quality is poor and volume variation between speakers is so great, that I find myself constantly raising and lowering the volume.

    It’s rather unsafe for me to do this while driving, so please fix it so I can listen to your wonderful podcasts.


  2. colinparker says:

    Thanks for the feedback SD.
    One or two others have also mentioned the sound quality as an issue.
    We use a high-quality condenser microphone (Rode NT-1A) but currently a
    single mic for the room. With ‘baritone Steve’ on board, I’d
    better get another microphone so I can EQ and compress his voice on
    its own track… We’ll still have the occasional background sound of
    the children’s Emergency Department, hopefully that adds to the

Leave a Reply