Are one or two dangerous? Camphor exposure in toddlers.

Article Details


Love JN, Sammon M, Smereck J

Are one or two dangerous? Camphor exposure in toddlers.

J Emerg Med. 2004 Jul;27(1):49-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2004.02.010.

PubMed ID
15219304 [ View in PubMed

Serious pediatric toxicity resulting from exposure to small amounts of camphor-containing products has long been a problem. Twenty years ago the United States Food and Drug Administration took several actions in an attempt to ameliorate this risk. Despite these changes, camphor remains commonly available in many nonprescription vaporized or topical "cold" medications, topical musculoskeletal anesthetic "rubs" and "cold sore" preparations, though its efficacy is largely unproven. Data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers demonstrate that camphor continues to be a common source of pediatric exposures. A review of the literature reveals persistent reports of toxicity resulting from exposure to relatively small amounts. In the pediatric population, exposure to as little as 500 mg is cited as a cause of mortality. More commonly, 750 to 1000 mg are associated with the development of seizures and death. Currently available products with 10% camphor contain 500 mg in 5 mL. It is concluded that small doses are dangerous. In children less than 6 years of age, exposure to 500 mg or more requires rapid triage to the closest health care facility.

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