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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 175

Camphor poisoning in children: The uncautioned danger

Department of Pediatrics, Maharajah's Institute of Medical Sciences, Nellimerla Vizianagaram District, Andhra Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication16-Mar-2015

Correspondence Address:
P Tarakeswara Rao
Department of Pediatrics, Maharajah's Institute of Medical Sciences, Nellimerla Vizianagaram District, Andhra Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2348-3334.153271

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How to cite this article:
Rao P T, Murty VY. Camphor poisoning in children: The uncautioned danger. CHRISMED J Health Res 2015;2:175

How to cite this URL:
Rao P T, Murty VY. Camphor poisoning in children: The uncautioned danger. CHRISMED J Health Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 May 29];2:175. Available from: http://www.cjhr.org/text.asp?2015/2/2/175/153271


Camphor is an essential ingredient in certain religious ceremonies. It is used in household on a day to day basis. It is commonly available and easily accessible to children in Indian households. In our country, it is sold over the counter without proper labeling. There is no caution regarding its potential harm on the product. Moreover, camphor available in solidified form for religious purpose. It is available in cubical form that can be easily mistaken for sugar cubes.

Camphor in a small amount can cause serious toxicity or can kill the child. [1] Neurotoxicity is seen when more than 50 mg/kg is ingested. Exposure to 500 mg of camphor is cited as a cause of death. [2] Death is usually due respiratory failure or uncontrolled seizures. [2] It is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and can cause symptoms within 10-15 min on ingestion. Nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain are common initial features. Generalized convulsions are often the first sign of significant neurotoxicity that can occur within 15-90 min after ingestion. Camphor induced seizures reported to occur in 6% of cases of ingestion. [3] Central nervous system excitatory features such as headache, dizziness, confusion, agitation, anxiety and hallucination are also observed.

There is a paucity of data regarding camphor related toxicity and mortality in India even though it is freely available, most commonly used product that is easily accessible to children. A pediatrician comes across several cases of poisoning during his practice. However, there is no data regarding the incidence of Camphor poisoning. [4] Western literature reports suggest camphor intoxication mainly due to unintentional intake of camphorated oils.

Parent education regarding the potential toxicity of camphor and keeping out of reach of children will go a long way in preventing camphor poisoning. Appropriate strict legislation should be in place to ensure the sale of camphor with proper labeling and caution. Proper packing of the product in child proof containers, which cannot be easily opened by kids is important. Increasing the awareness and advertising of the dangers of the product in the public media will go a long way in saving the precious lives of young kids. Legislation in this regarding is very important. Reporting system should be in place to identify the incidence of Camphor poisoning. Education of the health care workers and medical professionals regarding the management of a case of camphor poisoning is important. Health care personnel in our setting should always consider camphor poisoning as a cause of sudden onset of the seizure in an otherwise healthy afebrile child.

  References Top

Michael JB, Sztajnkrycer MD. Deadly pediatric poisons: Nine common agents that kill at low doses. Emerg Med Clin North Am 2004;22:1019-50.  Back to cited text no. 1
Manoguerra AS, Erdman AR, Wax PM, Nelson LS, Caravati EM, Cobaugh DJ, et al. Camphor poisoning: An evidence-based practice guideline for out-of-hospital management. Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2006;44:357-70.  Back to cited text no. 2
Goel A, Aggarwal P. Camphor - A lesser-known killer. South Med J 2007;100:134.  Back to cited text no. 3
Agarwal A, Malhotra HS. Camphor ingestion: An unusual cause of seizure. J Assoc Physicians India 2008;56:123-4.  Back to cited text no. 4


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