Unintentional Pediatric Lithium Exposure: A 15-Year Retrospective Analysis.Pediatr Emerg Care. 2023 Jun 01; 39(6):436-437.PE
Lithium is an uncommon pediatric exposure, and the effects of accidental or exploratory ingestions are not well characterized. This study examined the clinical effects and outcomes of unintentional lithium ingestions treated in a health care facility for patients up to 16 years old.
The database from a single-state Poison Control System was queried for all pediatric lithium exposures managed in a health care facility between January 2006 and December 2021. Inclusion criteria were 16 years or younger and acute lithium exposure treated in a health care facility. Those older than 16 years, nonoral exposures, intentional, chronic, or nonlithium exposures, and out-of-state patients were excluded.
One hundred eighteen cases were included, and 619 were excluded. The median age was 2 years (range, 0.5-15 years). One hundred fifteen (97%) were 7 years or younger. Sixty-eight (57.6%) were boys. One hundred thirteen (96%) were exploratory ingestions. Lithium carbonate was the most common formulation, with a median reported dose of 525 mg (range, 100-13,500 mg). Sixty-seven (57%) had serum lithium concentrations available: 19 (28%) were detectable (>0.1 mEq/L) and 4 were supratherapeutic (>1.2 mEq/L).One hundred (85%) patients were coded as having no effects. Four (3%) patients had coded effects-1 mild, 2 moderate, and 1 major; all were polydrug ingestions and recovered fully with basic supportive care. The loss to follow-up rate was 12%.A small minority received treatment with intravenous fluids and/or whole bowel irrigation. Thirteen (11%) were admitted, 3 to the ICU. No morbidity or mortality was reported.
The majority of unintentional pediatric lithium ingestions examined were exploratory and resulted in no significant symptoms. Only a small minority had detectable serum lithium concentrations. All isolated lithium exposures were asymptomatic. Unintentional exposures appear to be benign, even with detectable lithium levels. Further study is needed to better risk stratify for home care versus health care facility evaluation.