ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. poison centers answered more than 4.3 million calls in 2008, including nearly 2.5 million calls about human exposures to poison, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers -- up from 4.2 million calls in 2007.
Combined, U.S. poison centers together fielded an average of 6,825 calls a day, with more calls coming during warmer months. On average, U.S. poison centers received one call concerning a suspected or actual human poison exposure every 12.7 seconds.
Poison centers also took 130,495 animal calls and 1.7 million calls seeking information about poisons or possible poisons, according to the association's 2008 annual report of its National Poison Data System.
The National Poison Data System (NPDS) tracks every call made to a U.S. poison center in near real-time, serving as a national resource to collect and monitor U.S. poison exposure and serving as one of the few real-time national surveillance systems in place to track health trends.
NPDS is also used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) as a near real-time assessment tool to detect possible chemical or bio-terrorism outbreaks. The American Association of Poison Control Centers and the NCEH work hand-in-hand to monitor the public heath safety of our country's citizens.
"This is one of the few real-time disease reporting systems in existence anywhere," said Dr. Alvin Bronstein, medical director at the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center and the lead author of the report. "This database is a tremendous scientific tool that's in operation in poison centers around the country every day."
About 13 percent of all poison exposure calls poison centers received in 2008 were related to analgesics, or painkillers. Cosmetics or personal care products, meanwhile, accounted for nine percent of all poison exposure calls and household cleaning products spurred 8.6 percent of all poison exposure calls to U.S. poison centers.
The National Poison Data System also documented 1,756 deaths reported to poison centers in 2008. Most of these fatalities involved exposure to drugs including sedatives, antipsychotics, antidepressants and cardiovascular drugs. And most poison-related fatalities occurred among adults between the ages of 20 and 59.
Children under the age of three were involved in nearly 39 percent of all poison exposures in 2008 and children under the age of six accounted for about half of all poison exposure calls in 2008. But children under the age of six accounted for just two percent of all poison-related fatalities in 2008.
Other findings in the report:
- Though deaths reported to poison centers have increased since last year, pediatric deaths reported to poison centers are down. In 2007, the National Poison Data System reported 1,597 deaths, with 47 among children. In 2008, the National Poison Data System reported 1,756 deaths, with 39 among children.
- Most information calls -- 1.14 million -- were for drug identification. Drug information calls increased 30 percent from 2007.
- Nearly 83 percent of poison exposures were unintentional. Suicidal intent was suspected in about nine percent of cases.
- Poison centers are serving a far larger population than in 1983, the first year the American Association of Poison Control Centers began documenting poison exposures. In 1983, 16 poison centers served 43.1 million. In 2008, 61 poison centers served a population of 304 million.
"This report comes at a time when poison centers around the country are facing a budgetary crisis, and underscores the value poison centers offer the public," said Sandy Giffin, president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers and managing director of the Oregon Poison Center, who also authored the report. "Every year, more than 70 percent of calls to poison centers are managed on-site and outside of a health care facility -- meaning the caller got the help they needed over the phone and didn't need to go to a hospital or doctor's office."
Sixty-one poison centers, representing all 50 states, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands contributed to the database. The report was authored by Drs. Bronstein, Daniel A. Spyker, Louis R. Cantilena Jr., Jody L. Green, Barry H. Rumack, as well as Giffin.
This is the 26th annual report issued by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
The full report is available online at www.aapcc.org. It was published in the December issue of Clinical Toxicology.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the nation's poison control centers. Poison centers offer free and confidential services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For questions about poison or poison prevention, call your local poison control center at 1 (800) 222-1222.
SOURCE American Association of Poison Control Centers