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Emergency Medical Minute


Jul 31, 2019

Contributor: JP Brewer, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Because of their smaller size, there are a variety of adult-dose pills that are potentially toxic to children. 
  • The most common categories of medications that may be toxic include cardiac, diabetic, pain, psychiatric, anti-malarial, and herbals/caustics 
  • Oral hypoglycemics such as sulfonylureas can be particularly dangerous in children. 
  • Opiates and benzodiazepines have the potential for respiratory arrest
  • Anti-malarial medications are arrhythmogenic to children 
  • Camphor, batteries, oil of wintergreen (for the salicylate), and household caustic materials are dangerous non-pharmacologic ingestions to think about in children
  • If you encounter any of the above situations, consult your local poison control center 1-800-222-1222 or your toxicologist if you are lucky enough to have one on call


Schillie SF, Shehab N, Thomas KE, Budnitz DS. Medication overdoses leading to emergency department visits among children. Am J Prev Med 2009;37:181-7.

Oz B, Levichek Z, Koren G. Medications That Can Be Fatal For a Toddler with One Tablet or Teaspoonful A 2004 Update. Pediatric Drugs, 2004; 6(2): 123-126