Study: Increasing number of young children in danger of accidental pill poisoning

Published: Feb. 25, 2020 at 1:23 PM EST
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Every day more than 300 people under the age of 19 in the U.S. are treated in an emergency room because of being poisoned according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many times, it's because a child ingested medicine without a parent or grandparent knowing it. A new study aimed to figure out why that's become a common occurrence.

The Poison Prevention Packaging Act passed in 1970 required a number of household items like cleaning chemicals, flammable liquids, and prescriptions to have child resistant packaging. Accidental medication poisonings in young children fell significantly back then, but a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics says in the last 20 years the use of medications has gone up and so have unintended medication exposures in young children.

Researchers analyzed nearly 4,500 calls to five U.S. poison centers in Arizona, Florida, and Georgia, over an eight-month period in 2017. They found more than half of the prescription medicine exposures in children happened because the medication had been previously removed from original packaging.

Most of the time parents and grandparents took pills out to remember to take them or to make it easier to travel, the study shows. The authors say efforts to reduce child medication poisonings should encourage adults to keep medicine in child resistant packaging and out of reach of children.

The CDC says other ways to prevent accidental poisonings in children are by locking up medicines and disposing of prescriptions that are expired or no longer needed. The agency also says to put the nationwide poison control center number near every phone and program it into your cell phone.