Objective: Household cleaning products (HCP) have
been responsible for many accidental poisonings among children. In Malaysia,
there is no available published epidemiological data for poisoning among
children regarding these products. Thus, the aim of this study is to analyse
all referral cases and report all the telephone calls to the National Poison
Center (NPC) by hospitals in Malaysia regarding HCP exposure.
Methods: We analysed all calls related to HCP reported to NPC for the period between January 2006 and December 2009. Type of HCP, age, gender, date, route and reason of exposure were evaluated using SPSS version 15.0. Results: There were 1,106 telephone HCP-related enquiries which constitute approximately 49.5 % of all household poisoning cases collected in the same period. HCP exposures accounted for 14.8 and 34.6 % of all poisoning cases in children and adult, respectively. Majority of the cases in children were reported to be accidental (92.2 %). Bleach (i.e. sodium hypochlorite) was the most commonly involved product (n = 168) followed by detergent (n = 70) and antiseptic products (i.e. chloroxylenol; n = 27). Exposure to HCP occurred mainly via ingestion (98.8 %) followed by inhalation (0.6 %). The number of poisoning calls related to HCP was observed to be increased annually from 38 calls (11.4 %) in 2006 to 134 calls (40.4 %) in 2009 (P < 0.001). Information on children outcome was not available.
Conclusion and Recommendations: There has been a significant increase in the number of calls received by the NPC involving children who have accidentally taken cleaning products. Parents and childcare providers must ensure that HCP should be kept in a locked cabinet and out of children's sight and reach. Improved methods of follow-up are needed if adequate information is to be made available to support management and provide advice to the healthcare professionals. Finally, another national study needs to be carried out to better estimate the pattern of the HCP use and pattern of inappropriate products storage.