Poisoning of children aged 0–4 years (preschoolers) from medicinal substances is very rarely a cause of death in Australia and the total health burden is relatively small. Over the period for which data is available nationally, no significant change in the incidence rate is evident. It is suggested that a high proportion of cases is admitted to hospital for observation following suspected ingestion of a harmful substance, rather than because of evidence of toxic effects. While poisoning from aromatic analgesics, including Paracetamol, are common, they do not rank amongst the agents responsible for more significant health care burden or death.

The number of high health burden cases is greatest in Australia for anticoagulant medications, tranquillisers, barbiturates and antipsychotic and neuroepileptic medications. Deaths most commonly occur from the ingestion of cardiovascular drugs. Research elsewhere has suggested that access to these agents often occur in the home of a grandparent. Poisoning by iron supplements is less of a problem in Australia than has been reported overseas. A higher rate of medicinal poisoning was found for preschoolers residing in country areas. The literature on risk factors and prevention is reviewed and reported.