Age and organ maturity can influence drug toxicity in children; however, most clinical data and literature are based on drug concentrations in adults. Therefore, the interpretation of drugs detected in children is often difficult or not possible. Retrospective reviewing of pathology and toxicology information from postmortem cases may assist in future interpretations or identify drug trends. A search of the Forensic Science SA case files was undertaken over 15 years from January 2002 to December 2016 for all children (<13 years). Of the 412 pediatric coronial cases, toxicological information was available on 373. At least one drug was detected in 94 cases with paracetamol, ibuprofen, codeine and hospital-administrated lignocaine and morphine among the most commonly detected agents. Methamphetamine, one of the most commonly abused illicit drugs in Australia, was found in seven cases. In the methamphetamine cases, deaths were associated with shared sleeping in three, pneumonia in one, and stillbirth in one. Methamphetamine was considered potentially contributory to death in two cases. The causes of death in the remaining two cases were undetermined. As six of the seven positive cases occurred in the 2012-2016 (n = 106) timeframe, an increase has occurred over recent years in the number of infants and young children presenting to forensic autopsy in South Australia who have detectable concentrations of methamphetamine. If this is an indication of a more generalized increased childhood exposure in the community there may be significant long-term physical and psychological effects.
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