OBJECTIVES: To identify child or family related risk factors for unintentional childhood poisoning in Greece and to explore whether product specific poisonings might have special features that make them amenable to preventive interventions. SETTING: A case-control study was undertaken in Athens, Greece in 1995. Cases were 100 consecutive children brought with poisoning to the emergency clinics of the two university affiliated children's hospitals. For every case two age, gender, and hospital matched controls were chosen from among children brought to the outpatient clinics of these hospitals on the same date. METHODS: All children and their guardians were interviewed by the same person using a standard questionnaire that covered demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral, and past injury characteristics. Information was also obtained concerning type and conditions of poisoning for cases. Statistical analysis was undertaken by modeling the data using conditional logistic regression. RESULTS: Socioeconomic factors were not important risk indicators in these data but children living with other than both parents were at increased risk (odds ratio (OR) = 4.7, p = 0.08), as were children with a history of previous poisoning that required medical care (OR = 5.1, p = 0.05). Unintentional poisonings caused by chewing or swallowing cigarettes were concentrated in families where both parents were smokers. CONCLUSIONS: Absence of a parent appears to be associated with increased likelihood of childhood poisoning. The importance of product accessibility is underlined by the concentration of tobacco poisoning among children of parents who were both smokers. In the cultural context of this study, sociodemographic factors do not appear to represent demonstrable risk factors. Instead, control of childhood poisoning should be concentrated on safe packaging, storage, and disposal of potentially hazardous products.
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