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Predictors of unintentional poisoning among children under 5 years of age in Karachi: a matched case–control study
  1. Bilal Ahmed1,
  2. Zafar Fatmi1,
  3. Amna R Siddiqui1,
  4. Abdul L Sheikh2
  1. 1Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
  2. 2Department of Pharmacy, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
  1. Correspondence to Bilal Ahmed, Department of Medicine, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, PO Box 3500, Karachi 74800, Pakistan; bilal.ahmed{at}


Objective Poisoning is the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury and a common paediatric emergency in children under 5 years of age. The objective of this study was to determine the factors associated with unintentional poisoning among children under 5 years of age presenting to emergency rooms at tertiary care hospitals in Karachi, Pakistan.

Setting Children were recruited from the emergency rooms of the three biggest tertiary care hospitals in Karachi.

Design A matched case–control study was conducted on 120 cases and 360 controls, with matching done on gender and age. Parents were interviewed using a structured questionnaire containing information on sociodemographic factors, the child's behaviour, and the storage practices of hazardous substances of caregivers in the homes. Conditional logistic regression was performed to analyse the data.

Results Accessibility to hazardous chemicals and medicines due to unsafe storage (adj mOR=5.6, 95% CI 1.9 to 16.7), child's behaviour reported as usually aggressive (adj mOR=8.2, 95% CI 4.6 to 16.1), storage of kerosene oil and petrol in soft drink bottles (adj mOR=3.8, 95% CI 2.0 to 7.3), low socioeconomic status (adj mOR=9.2, 95% CI 2.8 to 30.1), low level of mother's education (adj mOR=4.2, 95% CI 1.8 to 9.6), and history of previous poisoning (adj mOR=8.6, 95% CI 1.7 to 43.5) were independently related to unintentional poisoning.

Conclusion The practice of storing kerosene and petroleum in soft drink bottles and the easy accessibility of chemicals and medicines are potentially modifiable. Health messages focusing on the safe storage of chemicals and medicines and the use of child resistant containers may play a key role in decreasing the burden of childhood poisoning in Karachi, Pakistan.

  • Child
  • ingestions
  • poison see ingestion

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Ethical Review Committee, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.