Prescription Drugs and Poisoning
by Mommy MD Guide Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH
For most children, a trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house is fun and exciting. But for some, it can be dangerous. Nearly one of every four grandparents stores their prescription medications in places that are easily accessible to children, according to the results of the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.*
Emergency department visits for accidental poisonings in young children have risen in the past decade. Every 10 minutes in the United States, a child is taken to an emergency department after swallowing a prescription drug or over-the-counter medicine. Among young children, unintentional poisonings from medicines are responsible for more emergency department visits each year than car accidents.
The most common type of prescription drug involved in an accidental ingestion by a child is a narcotic pain medication. The most common types of over-the-counter medications accidentally ingested are those that contain acetaminophen (Tylenol). For small children, these drugs can be dangerous, and in some cases, they can be deadly.
The results of the recent survey revealed that 23 percent of grandparents and 5 percent of parents store their prescription drugs in easily accessible places, such as daily-dose containers that even toddlers can open. Eighteen percent of grandparents and 8 percent of moms and dads surveyed said they store over-the-counter medicines in easily accessible spots.
What can moms do to protect their children from accidental drug poisoning? In your own home, it’s easy to keep all prescription and over-the-counter medicines stored out of sight and out of reach of young children. When having your prescriptions filled, ask your pharmacist to put all medications in child-proof bottles.
When you visit your child’s grandparents, ask them to put all of their medicines out of reach. Before you turn your child loose to run and play or roam, it’s wise to conduct a safety check, looking for anything that might pose a danger to your child, including easily-accessible medications. And if a loved one has a substance abuse problem certainly encourage them to seek help such as drug treatment centers.
*University of Michigan Health System (2012, April 16). Nearly one in four grandparents store prescription medicines where children can easily find them. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2012/04/120416150401.htm