Outcomes of acute exploratory pediatric lithium ingestions.Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2020 09; 58(9):881-885.CT
Objectives: To date, very little literature describes the outcomes of acute unintentional ingestions of lithium in young children. This study aimed to describe the clinical effects and outcomes reported in these patients reported to the National Poison Data System (NPDS).Methods: This is a retrospective observational study of acute unintentional lithium ingestions in children <6 years of age. The primary intent of the study was to characterize acute unintentional exposures to lithium in children in this age group. As a secondary outcome, we sought to identify a weight-based threshold to empirically refer patients into a healthcare facility for symptoms consistent with moderate effect or worse. The American Association of Poison Control Centers' NPDS was queried for all acute ingestions of lithium salts in children <6 years of age from 2000 to 2018. Inclusion criteria were single substance ingestions, unintentional-general exposure (i.e., exploratory ingestion), and followed to a known outcome or coded as potentially toxic exposure unable to follow and the patient was experiencing symptoms.Results: A total of 3045 single-substance exploratory ingestions of lithium were reported to poison centers that showed a decrease over time, consistent with decreasing use of lithium and decreasing calls to poison centers. Of the 3045 cases, we excluded 1178 leaving 1863 cases for analysis. Median age was 2 years (IQR: 1.5, 2) with 51% male cases. Management site was primarily non-health care facility (n = 808; 43.4%) with 569 (30.5%) already in a healthcare facility (HCF) when the Poison Control Center (PCC) was called and 477 (25.6%) referred to a HCF. The route of exposure was most commonly ingestion (n = 1853; 99.5%) and site of exposure was primarily home (1743; 93.6%). Medical outcomes were predominantly no effect and minor effect. There were 262 related clinical effects were reported in 184 patients (10%). The most frequently reported were vomiting (n = 76), drowsiness/lethargy (n = 58), other (n = 22), and ataxia (n = 20). Clinical effects lasted ≤2 h for 65 (33%), 2-8 h for 57 (28.9%), 8-24 h for 51 (25.9%), 1-3 days for 11 (5.6%), and >3 days to ≤1 week for 1 (0.5%); no cases resulted in clinical effects thought to be permanent and no deaths were reported. There were 1173 treatments provided to 857 patients. The most common treatments were basic and are readily performed at home; dilution (n = 492) and food/snack (n = 180). A smaller subset of patients received care that could likely only be provided in a healthcare facility including IV fluids (n = 173), other (n = 120), whole bowel irrigation (n = 46), single dose activated charcoal (n = 41), syrup of ipecac (n = 34), and lavage (n = 31). No patients received hemodialysis. A total of 425 of the exposures were referred to a healthcare facility by the PCC which had a dose coded. There was no difference in dose that resulted to referral to a healthcare facility over time (p = 0.2747). Due to the small number of moderate/major effect cases with dose information, we were unable to identify a dose-based threshold for referral to HCF.Conclusions: Severe outcomes after unintentional ingestion of lithium in pediatric patients are rare. It is likely that most asymptomatic pediatric patients <6 years do not need to be referred to the hospital after ingestion of lithium.