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A Fatal Case of Ferrous Sulfate Poisoning

Evan Charney, M.D.
JAMA. 1961;178(3):326-327. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.73040420020019.
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FOURTEEN years ago a British author, Gilbert Forbes, reported 2 instances of fatal poisoning in children from single large doses of ferrous sulfate. He was able to state then that "cases of poisoning due to the ingestion of iron are extremely rare."1 In the intervening years, however, this rarity has become all too frequent. A 1960 report from the National Clearinghouse for Poison Control Centers noted with concern that "published accounts of accidental iron poisoning in young children are increasing. A recent bibliography on the subject lists 80 references,"2 and the report goes on to cite the disquieting fact that reported cases had a mortality rate of 50 per cent. As more cases have been reported and experimental investigation pursued, it has become apparent, moreover, that the acute toxicity of ferrous sulfate is due to a number of complex factors. These include direct mucosal damage in the gastrointestinal


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