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VOLUME 23 , ISSUE S4 ( December, 2019 ) > List of Articles


Kerosene, Camphor, and Naphthalene Poisoning in Children

Keywords : Aspiration pneumonitis, Hemoglobinuria, Hemolysis, Seizures

Citation Information : Kerosene, Camphor, and Naphthalene Poisoning in Children. Indian J Crit Care Med 2019; 23 (S4).

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10071-23316

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 01-08-2015

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2019; The Author(s).


Kerosene poisoning is one of the most common accidental poisoning in children in developing countries due common use of kerosene in house-hold and unsafe storage practices. Aspiration pneumonitis is the most common manifestation of kerosene ingestion due to its low viscosity, high volatility, and low surface tension. The treatment of aspiration pneumonitis due to kerosene poisoning is symptomatic including oxygen support, respiratory monitoring, and careful monitoring of fluid balance. Children with severe respiratory distress and hypoxemia unresponsive to supplemental oxygen and/or severe central nervous system involvement require early intubation and mechanical ventilation. Transfer to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) is required at this stage. Emesis, gastric lavage, and administration of activated charcoal are contraindicated due to risk of aspiration. There is no clear benefit of using corticosteroids or prophylactic antibiotics. Asymptomatic children should be kept under observation for atleast 6 hours after exposure. The mortality rate is low and death occurs due to pneumonitis. Camphor is used in house-hold items including vaporized or topical cold preparations, liniments, moth repellents, for performing rituals in religious ceremonies, and in antimicrobial preparations. Camphor poisoning is not very common in childhood. Even small doses of camphor can cause serious toxicity and is potentially fatal. The onset of action is very rapid (5–15 minutes). The common manifestations are confusion, restlessness, delirium, and hallucinations, muscle twitching, myoclonus, ataxia, hyperreflexia, fasciculations, and seizures. Seizures are common and serious complication in camphor toxicity. The treatment is supportive including decontamination, gastric lavage, activated charcoal, and seizure control. Naphthalene is a major constituent of mothballs which are commonly used in household to protect clothes from moths. Though the poisoning with naphthalene is uncommon in children, most of the cases with naphthalene poisoning occur in developing countries where mothballs are still commonly used. The manifestations of naphthalene toxicity are predominantly due to acute intravascular hemolysis leading to anemia, hemoglobinuria, methemoglobinemia, and acute kidney injury (AKI). The treatment of naphthalene toxicity is supportive in form of transfusion of the packed red blood cells, monitoring of fluid and electrolyte balance, administration of alkalis in presence of hemoglobinuria, and renal replacement therapy. Prevention is better than cure. The strategies should be adopted to prevent children being exposed to these toxic compounds in the house-hold. Safe storage of toxic compounds away from the reach of children, avoiding storing kerosene in cold drink and beverage bottles, community education, provision of electricity in rural areas, safe cooking practices, and parental supervision are important interventions to prevent accidental poisoning among children.

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