Health Alert: National Poison Prevention Week

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- National Poison Prevention Week raises awareness of poison prevention nationwide during the third full week of March every year—March 17-24 for 2019. The week is an opportunity to highlight the dangers of poisonings for people of all ages.

Graphic depicting Poison Control expert hotline. (MGN)

Joining us tonight is Dr. Brittanie West, DO, family medicine physician and faculty at UHC Family Medicine.

Question: When it comes to poisonings in the US, what do the numbers tell us?

Answer: 55 U.S. poison control centers provided telephone guidance for more than 2 million human poison exposures.

That’s about:

• 6.6 poison exposures/1000 population

• 41.3 poison exposures in children younger than 6 years/1000 children

• 1 poison exposure reported to U.S. poison control centers every 14.6 seconds

Simply put, there are too many poisonings occurring.

Question: What ages are affected most?

Answer: While young children (younger than 6 years) comprise a disproportionate percentage of the cases, poisoning affects ALL age groups, from infants to seniors. Peak poisoning frequency occurs in one and two-year-olds, but poisonings in teens and adults are more serious.

The greater proportion of males in poison exposures occurring in children younger than 13 years switches to a female predominance in teens and adults.

Question: What are the most common substances implicated in poison exposures?

Answer: Cosmetics and personal care products lead the list of the most common substances implicated in pediatric exposures (children younger than 6 years). Cleaning substances and pain medications follow. These exposures are nearly always unintentional.

Pain medications lead the list of the most common substances implicated in adult poison exposures (20 years old or older). Sedatives and sleeping medications, antidepressants, and cardiovascular medications follow. These exposures are often intentional.

Question: What are the most serious poisonings?

Answer: Frequency statistics are only a part of the poisoning story. To determine where to focus prevention efforts, we also need to know which poisonings are serious.

Fumes/gases/vapors are the single most frequent cause of pediatric fatalities reported to Poison Control.

The substance categories with the largest number of deaths across all ages (and including intentional exposures) include sedatives and sleeping medications, opioids, stimulants and street drugs, and alcohols.

If you need poison help please call the poison helpline by calling 1-800-222-1222 or for more information please go to Make sure to keep this phone number in your smartphone and/or near your landline.