Purpose: To demonstrate the value of poison control data as an adjunct to national drug abuse surveys and a source of data to inform and focus prevention efforts.
Methods: National Poison Data System (NPDS) data are collected and compiled in real time by the 60 US poison centers as callers seek guidance for poison exposures. Demographic, geographic, product, outcome, and treatment-site data for the 35 453 inhalant cases reported between 1993 and 2008 were analyzed.
Results: The prevalence of inhalant cases reported to US poison control centers decreased 33% from 1993 to 2008. Prevalence was highest among children aged 12 to 17 years and peaked in 14-year-olds. In contrast to national survey data showing nearly equal use of inhalants by both genders, 73.5% of NPDS inhalant cases occurred in boys, which suggests that boys may pursue riskier usage behaviors. Most cases (67.8%) were managed in health care facilities. More than 3400 different products were reported. Propellants, gasoline, and paint were the most frequent product categories. Propellants were the only product category that substantially increased over time. Butane, propane, and air fresheners had the highest fatality rates. Prevalence for all inhalants was highest in western mountain states and West Virginia, but geographic distribution varied according to product type. Gasoline was a proportionately greater problem for younger children; propellants were an issue for older children.
Conclusions: NPDS should be used to monitor inhalant abuse because it provides unique, timely, and clinically useful information on medical outcomes experienced by users, includes detailed product information (brand and formulation), and can potentially be used to identify real-time demographic, geographic, and product trends. Focusing inhalant prevention efforts on the most hazardous products and most seriously affected users may improve and facilitate strategic prevention, enabling interventions such as targeted education, product reformulation, repackaging, relabeling, or prohibition of sales of especially hazardous inhalant products to youth.
- Accepted December 14, 2009.
- Copyright © 2010 by the American Academy of Pediatrics