Kids ingesting fewer caustic substances: study

January 8, 2013

San Diego – Legislative efforts have led to a decrease in the number of children ingesting caustic substances, according to a new study from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.

Using the 2009 Kids’ Inpatient Database, researchers estimated that 807 children were hospitalized for pediatric caustic ingestion injuries, for a national cost of nearly $23 million, the study abstract states. Caustic substances can burn or corrode living tissue. An example is sodium hydroxide, which is a common ingredient in drain and oven cleaners.

Researchers said that although these injuries have not been well-documented, a comparison to incidence data from other studies suggests the number of injuries is a “substantial decrease” and incidence may be lower than previously thought. They concluded that legislation, such as a measure requiring the labeling of caustic substances, has been successful, but these injuries still represent a large health care burden.

The study was published in the December issue of Archives of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery.