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West Afr J Med. 1992 Apr-Jun; 11(2): 116-21.

Kerosene poisoning in childhood: a 6-year prospective study at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital.

Fagbule DO, Joiner KT.

Department of Paediatrics, University of Ilorin.

In a 6-year prospective study of kerosene poisoning in children admitted to the Department of Paediatrics, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), between January 1982 and December 1987, 109 cases were seen. They were aged 6 months to 9 years, with a male: female ratio of 1.8:1. Majority (79.8%) were below 2 years. Many households (52.3%) stored the agent in familiar beverage or household containers placed on kitchen or bedroom floors, within easy reach of infants and toddlers. Seventy-six (69.7%) cases had home remedies, palm oil being the most common accounting for 55.3%. More than half of the cases (56.9%) presented within 12 hours of the accident due to persistent cough and dyspnoea. Respiratory complications viz pneumonia, pleural effusion and pulmonary oedema were the most common, evident in 67.3% of those who had chest radiographs. Approximately, three quarters (74.3%) of patients with radiologic abnormalities had palm oil alone or in combination with milk as home remedies. Severity of poisoning was influenced by the type of home remedy and the interval between accident and admission (P less than 0.05; P less than 0.01 respectively). Presence of radiological or CNS abnormality or both was associated with a higher morbidity. The only death in the study had complications referable to both systems. Ways of minimizing the risk of kerosene poisoning and its attendant morbidity are discussed.

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