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Unintentional Pediatric Cocaine Exposures Result in Worse Outcomes than Other Unintentional Pediatric Poisonings

      Abstract

      Background

      Unintentional pediatric cocaine exposures are rare but concerning due to potentially serious complications such as seizures, dysrhythmias, and death.

      Objectives

      The objectives were to assess the demographic and clinical characteristics of pediatric cocaine exposures reported to the California Poison Control System.

      Methods

      This is a retrospective study of all confirmed pediatric (< 6 years of age) cocaine exposures reported to the California Poison Control System from January 1, 1997–September 30, 2010. Case narratives were reviewed for patient demographics, exposure details, clinical effects, therapy, hospitalization, and final outcome.

      Results

      Of the 86 reported pediatric cocaine exposures, 36 had positive urine drug testing and were included in the study cohort. The median age at presentation was 18 months (range: 0–48 months), and 56% were male (n = 20). The most common clinical manifestations were tachycardia and seizures. The most common disposition was admission to an intensive care unit (n = 14; 39%). Eleven cases (31%) were classified as having a major effect as per American Association of Poison Control Centers case coding guidelines. One child presented in asystole with return of spontaneous circulation after cardiopulmonary resuscitation and multiple vasoactive medications. The proportion of cocaine exposures with serious (moderate or major) outcomes (66.7%; 95% confidence interval 50.3–79.8%) was higher than other pediatric poisonings reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers during the study period (0.88%; 95% confidence interval 0.87–0.88).

      Conclusions

      Although pediatric cocaine exposures are rare, they result in more severe outcomes than most unintentional pediatric poisonings. Practitioners need to be aware of the risk of recurrent seizures and cardiovascular collapse associated with cocaine poisoning.

      Keywords

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