Medicines Top Source of Kids’ Poisonings

The above headline is from a HealthDay News article published in the August 4, 2009 Atlanta Journal Constitution. A similar article also appeared on the MedPage Today website on August 5, 2009. These articles and several others covered a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), that was also published in an advanced September 2009 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

These articles reporting on the CDC study, showed that in the United States alone, each year more than 71,000 children, 18 years old and younger, wind up in emergency rooms for unintentional overdoses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The article also notes that more than two-thirds of emergency department visits are due to poisoning from prescription or over-the-counter medications. This represents more than double the rate of childhood poisonings caused by household cleaning products, plants or other items.

Lead researcher Dr. Daniel Budnitz, director of the CDC’s Medication Safety Program in the division of health-care quality promotion, was quoted in the articles stating, “Medication overdoses are most common among 2-year-olds” He then reports an alarming statistic by saying, “About one out of every 180 2-year-olds visits an emergency department for a medication overdose each year.”

Dr. Robert Geller, a professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and medical director of the Georgia Poison Center, added his concern about these alarming numbers by saying that “the number of children seen in the emergency room due to overdoses that are unintentional or medication errors is remarkable.” He then added, “Right now, poison centers are having their funding cut. If poison centers are less available, the number of children going to emergency rooms will rise.”

Dr. Budnitz explained how most of the incidents happen when he said, “Basically, it’s young children finding and eating medicine without adult supervision,” he said. “They are found with an empty bottle or pills in their mouth or something, and they are taken to the emergency department.”

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