Prescription and OTC drug poisoning in children increasing as more available to kids

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Researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center have found that children are finding ways around the traditional methods used to keep children safe from prescription medications and are succumbing to prescription medication poisoning.

In the last decade, the research shows, poisonings among children because of the ingestion of medication that was not meant for them have increased. Researchers used a database of more than half a million children who had visited the emergency room because of accidental ingestion of medication. More than half of the medications the children ingested were prescription medications. From 2001 to 2008, the population of children increased by only 8 percent, but the incidence of accidental medicine poisoning increased by 22 percent.

Oxycodone, morphine and codeine were high on the list of drugs that children have accidentally ingested. One of the possible reasons the poisonings have increased in children is because prescription pain medications are more common in households now. More adults now have pain medication in the house than ever before.

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"The problem of pediatric poisoning in the U.S. is getting worse, not better," said Lead Author Dr. Randall Bond. "Effective efforts at 'poison proofing' may have plateaued or declined."

One of the nation’s leading advocates for children’s safety around medication, Dr. Randall Bond, said he’s seen personally how easy it is for a child to get into medication.

"We had a bottle of Sudafed in the top shelf of the cabinet in our bedroom, and we thought our children would never get into it," he said. "But sure enough, we had guests over and my daughter, who was 3 at the time, opened all the drawers, climbed onto the counter, and opened up the medicine cabinet and started to take it."

Traditionally, the strongest method of childproofing medication has been the childproof cap. Childproof caps have been so effective that even adults have complained about their inability to open the medication bottles.

Researchers said that the rise in child medication poisonings is a clear indication that further study needs to be done in packaging methods designed the keep children out of medication. In addition, they said parents should keep dangerous medication locked up and any unused medication should be thrown away instead of being kept out where children can access it.

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