Children are at significantly greater risk than adults for accidental poisoning, because they are smaller, have faster metabolic rates and are less able physically to handle toxic chemicals. In addition, natural curiosity and their desire to put everything in their mouths increase their poisoning risk. In 2002, 100 children ages 14 and under died as a result of accidental poisoning.
Children ages 5 and under are at greatest risk for nonfatal poisoning, accounting for the majority of all poisoning exposures. Children ages 4 and under accounted for more than 57 percent of these deaths. In 2003, almost 90,000 children ages 14 and under were treated in hospital emergency rooms for accidental poisoning.