More Kids Accidentally Poisoned With Pharmaceutical Products In USA

More Kids Accidentally Poisoned With Pharmaceutical Products In USA

September 19th, 2011 // 12:35 pm @

The number of children who are accidentally poisoned with pharmaceuticals has increased in the USA, despite efforts to improve packaging safeguards, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati reported in the Journal of Pediatrics. The authors explain that this alarming increase in childhood injuries from pharmaceutical poisoning needs to be better understood.

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Dr. Randall Bond and team examined data on 544,133 children aged up to five years who had been taken to emergency departments due to possible poisoning after taking pharmaceutical products. They gathered data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers on all cases reported between 2001 and 2008.

Dr. Bond explained:

“We need to know the medications and ingestion circumstances that contribute most to ED visits, hospitalization, and harm.”

The researchers found that:

In 95% of ED (emergency department visit) cases the child had self-ingested
55% of ED visits were caused by prescription medications
76% of hospitalizations were due to prescription medications
71% of significant injuries were due to prescription medications
The following types of medications had the largest impact: those containing opioids, sedative hypnotics, and cardiovascular drugs.

Dr. Bond said:

“The problem of pediatric poisoning in the U.S.
is getting worse, not better.”

The authors wrote that there was an overall 22% increase in accidental poisoning with pharmaceuticals in children aged up to five years, but the population of this age group only rose 8% during the study period (2001-2008).

The researchers believe that greater availability and access to medications around the child’s home have contributed to the increase.

Dr. Bond said:

“Prevention efforts of parents and caregivers to store medicines in locked cabinets or up and away from children continue to be crucial. However, the largest potential benefit would come from packaging design changes that reduce the quantity a child could quickly and easily access in a self-ingestion episode, like flow restrictors on liquids and one-at-a-time tablet dispensing containers.”

He also says that both adult and pediatric medications, including prescription and OTC (over-the-counter) ones should undergo changes.

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