BACKGROUND: Iron continues to be a common cause of poisoning in young children, in part due to its widespread use and easy accessibility. OBJECTIVE: To determine differences in the epidemiology and outcome of unintentional iron ingestion by young children in populations practicing selective (eg, US) versus universal (eg, Israel) iron supplementation to infants. METHODS: All cases of unintentional iron ingestion in children younger than 7 years in a one year period were identified through the poison control center databases of 2 sites (Illinois and Israel). Parameters compared include patient sex and age; type, form, and dose of iron preparation; circumstances and clinical manifestations; management; and outcome. RESULTS: A total of 602 children were identified: 459 in Illinois and 143 in Israel. The majority of Illinois children ingested multivitamin preparations (94%), whereas Israeli children ingested single-ingredient iron preparations (78%) (p < 0.001). Iron doses ingested were higher in Israel (median 14.5 vs 6.6 mg/kg; p < 0.001) but remained within the nontoxic range for most children. No deaths or severe poisonings were reported, and 93% of children in both groups were asymptomatic. The majority of ingestions in both locations were due to unintentional self-ingestion. However, parental miscalculation occurred more frequently in Israel (16%) than in Illinois (1%). CONCLUSIONS: Universal iron supplementation to infants was not associated with a negative impact on the outcome of pediatric unintentional ingestions. Low-dose exposures were safely managed by on-site observation.
- Iron supplementation