oa South African Family Practice - Paraffin poisoning in children : what can we do differently? : original research

Volume 47, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



&lt;i&gt;Background:&lt;/i&gt; The purpose of this study was to describe the occurrence, health cost and management of paraffin poisoning in a rural South African hospital. &lt;br&gt;&lt;i&gt;Methods:&lt;/i&gt; 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. &lt;br&gt;&lt;i&gt;Results:&lt;/i&gt; 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 &lt;u&gt;+&lt;/u&gt; 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 &lt;u&gt;+&lt;/u&gt; 1.8. &lt;br&gt;&lt;i&gt;Conclusions:&lt;/i&gt; 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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