Background and aims Foodborne illnesses are a serious public health issue, especially among children in developing countries. The aim of this study is to determine the magnitude of foodborne diseases and associated risk factors among children in Morocco.
Methods We conducted a retrospective study of foodborne diseases in children under the age of 6 years, notified between 1992 and 2008, to the Moroccan Poison Control Centre.
Results There were 2 589 cases of food poisoning and 12 deaths reported in children during the study period. The foods most often involved were dairy products, fish and fishery products. The median delay in presentation to hospital was 9 h. The majority of children had gastrointestinal symptoms, associated or not with respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological symptoms. On admission to hospital, the majority of patients received symptomatic treatment. According to the results, region of origin, types of symptoms and the delay before treatment were significant risk factors influencing patients’ health status. The risk of death due to poisoning was significantly higher among patients presenting with arrhythmias, apnea, hypothermia, hypotonia, bradycardia and coma.
Conclusions Foodborne diseases are a significant public health problem in both developed and developing countries. The effective treatment remains prevention focused on public awareness about the dangers of food poisoning, especially for young children.