Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Childhood Poisoning by Medication on the Rise

Childhood poisonings by medication are up dramatically, despite repeated messages to adults to keep prescription and over-the-counter medicines out of reach and locked up. Visits to the emergency department for poisoning by medication in children age 5 and younger are up. From 2001 to 2008, these types of poisonings increased by 30%. The number of children age 5 years and under in the U.S. went up only 8% during this time.

In a study conducted by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the majority of the accidents involved a child getting into medicines, not a parent or other caretaking giving a child an incorrect dose. The study evaluated a total of 453,559 records, accounting for more than 248,000 emergency room visits, nearly 42,000 hospital admissions, and more than 18,000 injuries. In 95% of the cases, the child got into the medicines. Over the eight years, 66 deaths occurred.

Most often, the drug ingestions that caused the most serious illnesses involved opioid painkillers, sedatives and heart medicines. 

This reinforces the importance of keeping all medications locked up so that children cannot get to them.

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