In 2019, the 55 U.S. poison control centers provided telephone guidance for over 2.1 million human poison exposures.1 That's about:
While young children (younger than 6 years) comprise a disproportionate percentage of the cases, poisoning affects ALL age groups, from infants to seniors. Peak poisoning frequency occurs in one- and two-year-olds, but poisonings in teens and adults are more serious. Notice that the greater proportion of males in poison exposures occurring in children younger than 13 years switches to a female predominance in teens and adults.
Across all ages, there were 643 poison exposures reported per 100,000 population. The highest incidence occurred in one- and two-year-olds (7,047 and 6,667 exposures/100,000 children in the respective age groups). For ages 50 years or older, 249 exposures were reported per 100,000 population.1
Children younger than 6 years comprise nearly half of poison exposures (43%), followed by adults (42%), then teens (8%).
What are the most common substances implicated in poison exposures? Cosmetics and personal care products lead the list of the most common substances implicated in pediatric exposures (children younger than 6 years, NPDS, 2019). Cleaning substances and pain medications follow. These exposures are nearly always unintentional.