Paracetamol overdose in Danish children and adolescents during the Covid-19 restrictions

Oliver Nørholm Kempf*, Thora Wesenberg Helt, Klaus Birkelund Johansen, Charlotte Rittig, Louise Lundby-Christensen, Marianne Sjølin Frederiksen, Pernille Mathiesen, Malene Boas, Preben Berg Nielsen, Annie Ellermann, Klaus Børch, Jens Jakob Petersen, Thomas Houmann Petersen, Cæcilie Trier Sønderskov, Jesper Andersen, Rasmus Gaardskær Nielsen, Eva Mosfeldt Jeppesen, Vibeke Brix Christensen

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde


INTRODUCTION: To assess the effect of long-term isolation on the mental state of Danish youth. This study aimed to investigate trends in paracetamol overdoses among people under 18 years of age in Denmark during Covid-19 restrictions as an indicator of mental health.

METHODS: All patients under the age of 18 years presenting with paracetamol overdose at one of the 18 paediatric departments in Denmark from 2016 to 2021 were included. They were identified in all Danish hospital databases using specific diagnostic codes.

RESULTS: From 2016 to 2021, a total of 3,217 people under 18 years of age were admitted for paracetamol overdose. Among these, 86% (n = 2,755) were girls and 14% (n = 462) were boys. During 2020, a slight (7%) decrease in admissions was observed among both boys and girls compared with the preceding four-year mean value. In 2021, the number of overdoses among girls exceeded by 35% the former all-time high from 2016. Furthermore, the number of overdoses among girls exceeded the pre-four-year period mean value by 43%. Among boys, an 8% increase was seen from the highest ever previous value recorded in 2019 and a 23% increase compared with the previous four-year mean value.

CONCLUSIONS: During the first year of restrictions, a slight decrease in paracetamol overdoses was observed, possibly associated with limited accessibility. The second year showed a considerable increase in paracetamol overdoses, which may imply an affected mental state among youth during the prolonged lockdown restrictions as seen in previous epidemics. Therefore, further studies are warranted to develop a pandemic preparedness plan to protect general mental health.



TidsskriftDanish Medical Journal
Udgave nummer5
StatusUdgivet - 16 apr. 2024


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