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Ethanol Intoxication of Young Children

Gaw, Christopher E. MD, MBE*; Osterhoudt, Kevin C. MD†,‡,§

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001946
CME Review Article

Ethanol intoxication of infants and young children can be a challenging diagnosis in the pediatric emergency department, and features of the poisoning may differ in comparison with adolescents. The sources of ethanol exposures in this age are varied and include unintentional, malicious, and iatrogenic etiologies. Young children exposed to ethanol often present with mixed clinical signs and symptoms that may not fit the traditional ethanol or sedative-hypnotic toxidrome. Pediatric ethanol intoxications are often managed supportively, and recovery is usually rapid. The purpose of this review is to describe the sources of ethanol poisoning among children 6 years and younger, highlight presenting symptoms and pharmacokinetic considerations unique to this age group, and review management strategies. In addition, published cases of ethanol poisoning due to ingestion among young infants are compiled for presentation.

*Resident Physician, Division of General Pediatrics

Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Director of Poison Control Center, Division of Emergency Medicine

Poison Control Center

§Center for Injury Research and Prevention, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.

The authors, faculty, and staff in a position to control the content of this CME activity and their spouses/life partners (if any) have disclosed that they have no financial relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial organizations relevant to this educational activity.

Reprints: Kevin C. Osterhoudt, MD, Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 3401 Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (e-mail:

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