Adverse drug reactions causing admission to a paediatric hospital

Ruairi M Gallagher, Jennifer R Mason, Kim A Bird, Jamie J Kirkham, Matthew Peak, Paula R Williamson, Anthony J Nunn, Mark A Turner, Munir Pirmohamed, Rosalind L Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE(S): To obtain reliable information about the incidence of adverse drug reactions, and identify potential areas where intervention may reduce the burden of ill-health.

DESIGN: Prospective observational study.

SETTING: A large tertiary children's hospital providing general and specialty care in the UK.

PARTICIPANTS: All acute paediatric admissions over a one year period.

MAIN EXPOSURE: Any medication taken in the two weeks prior to admission.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Occurrence of adverse drug reaction.

RESULTS: 240/8345 admissions in 178/6821 patients admitted acutely to a paediatric hospital were thought to be related to an adverse drug reaction, giving an estimated incidence of 2.9% (95% CI 2.5, 3.3), with the reaction directly causing, or contributing to the cause, of admission in 97.1% of cases. No deaths were attributable to an adverse drug reaction. 22.1% (95% CI 17%, 28%) of the reactions were either definitely or possibly avoidable. Prescriptions originating in the community accounted for 44/249 (17.7%) of adverse drug reactions, the remainder originating from hospital. 120/249 (48.2%) reactions resulted from treatment for malignancies. The drugs most commonly implicated in causing admissions were cytotoxic agents, corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, vaccines and immunosuppressants. The most common reactions were neutropenia, immunosuppression and thrombocytopenia.

CONCLUSIONS: Adverse drug reactions in children are an important public health problem. Most of those serious enough to require hospital admission are due to hospital-based prescribing, of which just over a fifth may be avoidable. Strategies to reduce the burden of ill-health from adverse drug reactions causing admission are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere50127
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Patient Admission
  • Prospective Studies
  • United Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Adverse drug reactions causing admission to a paediatric hospital'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this