oa South African Family Practice - Paraffin poisoning in children : what can we do differently? : original research
<i>Background:</i> The purpose of this study was to describe the occurrence, health cost and management of paraffin poisoning in a rural South African hospital. <br><i>Methods:</i> A retrospective study was undertaken of 145 children admitted with a diagnosis of paraffin poisoning at Philadelphia Hospital, Mpumalanga from January 2000 to June 2001. A pre-tested form was used to collect data from the admission files. Where applicable, the Chi-square test or t-test was used to determine statistical significance. <br><i>Results:</i> Children younger than five years of age were affected significantly more than those older than five years of age (91% vs. 9%, p<0.001), and boys were affected more than girls (58% vs. 42%, p=0.034). The average length of stay and cost of treatment were 2.5 <u>+</u> 2 days and R617.24 respectively. Prophylactic antibiotics were prescribed in 86% of cases (125/145) and the average number of medications prescribed per child was 3.5 <u>+</u> 1.8. <br><i>Conclusions:</i> Although no mortality was reported, paraffin poisoning contributed substantially to the morbidity of, health expenditure for and antibiotic overuse in these children. Provision of child-resistant paraffin container caps, retraining of doctors on appropriate antibiotic use and community education are necessary and crucial in reducing the occurrence of paraffin poisoning in children.
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