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HPA reports 'worrying' rise in child poisonings

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The National Poisons Information Service has reported a ‘worrying’ rise in phone calls from healthcare professionals relating to childhood poisonings.

The service, which is run by the Health Protection Agency, said it had noted an 11 per cent rise in enquiries relating to incidents which involve children less than 10 years of age.

The majority of enquiries related to the accidental poisoning of children with household substances such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or the desiccant silica gel, according to an annual report on the service’s activity in 2008-09, published this week.

Overall more than 625,000 poisons-related queries were made by healthcare professionals to the service in 2008-09 – an increase of 19 per cent on those received in 2007-08.

Regarding adults, requests for information concerning the recreational drugs gamma gammabutylactone (GBL) and benzylpiperazine rose. And for the first time, the service received telephone enquires concerning new stimulants trifluoromethylphenylpiperazine (TPMPP) and dimethoxybromophenethylamine (2C-B).

However, the report showed an ongoing reduction in enquiries concerning MDMA and amphetamines, and, following its recent phased withdrawal, a striking reduction in enquiries relating to the painkiller co-proxamol.

Director of NPIS (Newcastle) Professor Simon Thomas said: “The high proportion of our enquiries that involve children continues to be a concern.”

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