September 16, 2013 – Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) states that up to seven children under the age of 14 die in Canada every year from poisoning and 1,700 are hospitalized with serious injuries.
In a recent issue of Pediatric Journal, the official journal for the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers from Boston's Children Hospital looked at statistical data from the National Medicare Surveys that compared monthly poisonings among children and teens to the commonly prescribed medications written for adults from 2000 to 2009. As the adult prescriptions for lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity increased, child poisonings have been on the incline as well – noting a significant association.
Despite the introduction of child-proof caps on medication bottles and educational campaigns an estimated 70,000 children in the United States are seen in the emergency department every year for 'unintentional medication exposure' (medication poisoning) of which 12% are hospitalized. It is very important to note that not only were the majority of these children under the age of five but they also had the greatest risk of ingesting:
- Diabetes or drugs to lower blood sugar
- Statins and other lipid-lowering medications to reduce cholesterol
- Beta-blockers for high blood pressure and heart problems
- Opioids and other narcotics for pain
Adolescents from the age of 13 to 19 had the second highest poison rating causing overdose by ingesting their parent's medication for recreational use.
Poison Control Centres continue to receive an increasing number of calls from parents inquiring about their children who accidentally ingested medications. Researchers are advising paediatricians to talk with parents on how to store their medications safely while focusing on how exposures vary based on the child's age and intention.
We recommend that parents and caregivers:
- Use child-resistant packaging
- Keep all medications out of sight and out of reach
- Consider locking the medicine cabinet
- You know your children best - implement age specific prevention strategies
- Have your Poison Control Centre telephone number close at hand, whether it is near your telephone or programmed into your cell.
- If you think your child might have ingested a medication, do not hesitate, call for assistance immediately.
To read highly detailed information on storing medicines safely, please click on: