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Differences in Poisoning Mortality in the United States, 2003–2007: Epidemiology of Poisoning Deaths Classified as Unintentional, Suicide or Homicide


Introduction: Poisoning, specifically unintentional poisoning, is a major public health problem in the United States (U.S.). Published literature that presents epidemiology of all forms of poisoning mortalities (i.e., unintentional, suicide, homicide) together is limited. This report presents data and summarizes the evidence on poisoning mortality by demographic and geographic characteristics to describe the burden of poisoning mortality and the differences among sub-populations in the U.S. for a 5-year period.

Methods: Using mortality data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, we presented the age-specific and age-adjusted unintentional and intentional (suicide, homicide) poisoning mortality rates by sex, age, race, and state of residence for the most recent years (2003–2007) of available data. Annual percentage changes in deaths and rates were calculated, and linear regression using natural log were used for time-trend analysis.

Results: There were 121,367 (rate¼8.18 per 100,000) unintentional poisoning deaths. Overall, the unintentional poisoning mortality rate increased by 46.9%, from 6.7 per 100,000 in 2003 to 9.8 per100.000 in 2007, with the highest mortality rate among those aged 40–59 (rate¼15.36), males(rate¼11.02) and whites (rate¼8.68). New Mexico (rate¼18.2) had the highest rate. Unintentional poisoning mortality rate increased significantly among both sexes, and all racial groups except blacks (p,0.05 time-related trend for rate). Among a total of 29,469 (rate¼1.97) suicidal poisoning deaths, the rate increased by 9.9%, from 1.9 per 100,000 in 2003 to 2.1 per 100,000 in 2007, with the highest rate among those aged 40–59 (rate¼3.92), males (rate¼2.20) and whites (rate¼2.24). Nevada(rate¼3.9) had the highest rate. Mortality rate increased significantly among females and whites only (p,0.05 time-related trend for rate). There were 463 (rate¼0.03) homicidal poisoning deaths and the rate remained the same during 2003–2007. The highest rates were among aged 0–19 (rate¼0.05), males (rate¼0.04) and blacks (rate¼0.06).

Conclusion: Prevention efforts for poisoning mortalities, especially unintentional poisoning, should be developed, implemented and strengthened. Differences exist in poisoning mortality by age, sex, location, and these findings underscore the urgency of addressing this public health burden as this epidemic continues to grow in the U.S. [West J Emerg Med. 2012;13(3):230–238.]


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