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500,000 Times Each Year a Child gets into Medicine or gets the Wrong Dose

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

67,000 Children treated in Emergency Rooms Each Year for Medicine Poisoning

March 22, 2013 – Cleveland, Ohio–Today Safe Kids Worldwide® released a new research report that found kids are getting into medicine at an alarming rate. Every minute of every day, a poison control center receives a call about potential medicine poisoning for a child age five and under. And 67,000 times each year, or every eight minutes, a young child goes to the emergency room for medicine poisoning—a 30 percent increase over the past ten years.

In its report titled An In-Depth Look at Keeping Young Children Safe Around Medicine, Safe Kids examines data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, information from poison control centers, and findings from parent focus groups. The report identifies some of the factors that are leading to these disturbing numbers and offers parents simple tips for protecting their children.

“Most parents are careful about storing medicines where children can’t get them,” said Mandy Thomas, Coordinator of the Safe Kids Greater Cleveland Coalition led by UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “But they are might not be thinking of pills stored in purses, vitamins left on counter tops, or a diaper rash remedy near a changing table.”

The increase in exposure reflects the increase in medicines in the home. Most adults take medicine or vitamins on a regular basis: eight out of ten adults took at least one medicine or vitamin in the past week, and three out of ten adults took five or more, but they don’t always keep them up and away from kids. In 86 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to an adult.

“Curious kids can get into trouble fast,” added Ms. Thomas. “It only takes a few seconds for children to get into medicine that could make them very sick. Take a look around your house to make sure all medicine and vitamins are up and away and out of sight.”

Tips to Keep Kids Safe Around Medicine
  • Put medicine and vitamins up and away and out of sight. (In 67 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the medicine was left within reach of the child, such as in a purse, on a counter, or under a sofa cushion.)
  • Look around your home for products you might not think about as medicine, like rubbing alcohol, eye drops, or gummy vitamins, and store them out of the reach of children.
  • When you have guests in your home, offer to put purses, bags and coats where kids can’t get to them. (In 43 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to a relative, such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent.)
  • Be alert to potential poisons in places your child visits. Take a look around to make sure there isn’t medicine within reach of your child.
  • Program the nationwide poison control center number (1-800-222-1222) into your phones.
  • Visit SafeKids.org for more tips on safe storage, safe dosing, and safe disposal of medicine.

National Poison Prevention Week is March 17 – 23, 2013.

Download the report
Download the video
Download the complete list of safety tips

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