Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Twice as many kids in ER from OTC meds August 20, 2009

This article is an excerpt from my Parenting column on

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that more than twice as many children are accidentally poisoned with prescription or over-the-counter medicines than with household consumer products.

The study, published in the August issue of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that the drug most commonly implicated in poisoning was acetaminophen (Tylenol and other brands), with opioid painkillers and benzodiazepine antianxiety drugs close behind.

  • Over 70,000 children under 18 visit emergency rooms annually for unintentional medication overdoses
  • Approximately 30,000 are suffering poisonings from other products.
  • More than 75% of the medication overdoses were in children under 5.
  • Most of the affected children have ingested medicines without their parents’ knowledge
  • 8% of emergency room visits and 14% of hospitalizations were the result of parents accidentally overdosing their offspring.

Dr. Daniel S. Budnitz, the senior author and epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)., said that the study did not count visits to private physicians’ offices or other health care facilities.

Dr. Budnitz said that parents should of course keep medications out of the reach of children, but that packaging improvements are also important. “Child safety caps came out in the 1970s and haven’t changed much,” he said. “There are packaging improvements that can be made, and we’re working with manufacturers and other federal agencies to encourage this..

For more info: Read the study in its entirety here.
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