Medication Poisonings in Young Children

Do you have a child under the age of six? Preschool children (less than six years old) are at the highest risk for poisoning of any age group, making up near half the poisonings reported in the country. New research published in Pediatric Emergency Care shows that what these young children are being poisoned by is changing and the risk of serious injury is increasing.

If you have kids you know they are delightful with their curious nature. They love to explore: to them everything is new and interesting.  This is part of how they learn and anything in the home can become their new toy. Unfortunately, some things found in the home can become dangerous when little ones go exploring.  Research from the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital shows that young children are increasingly being poisoned by the medications in their homes. In 2012, this was more than 22,000 children in Ohio; nationwide it was more than half a million children. The biggest change over the ten years in the study was seen with dietary and herbal supplements. The biggest groups of medications children got into were pain medication (like Tylenol or Advil) and antihistamines. In a worrisome trend, there was nearly a doubling of the percentage of children with life threatening effects. The medication they got into was usually a family member’s medication, like a parent’s or grandparent’s blood pressure medication or an older sibling’s ADHD medication.

So if you have small children in the home, remember that wonderful curious nature may sometimes get them into trouble. If you have questions call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Save the number in your cell phone or call for a free magnet with the poison center number and an information packet how to poison proof your home.

Here are some tips to poison-proof your home:

  • Keep medication up high, out of sight and if possible, locked up.
  • Keep medicines in their original containers, with child resistant tops
  • Do not leave medicines out on counters or windows
  • Keep your cleaning supplies in locked cabinets – Under the sink storage is easy access for a 2 year old!
  • Know what kind of plants, shrubs, flowers and berries are in your yard
  • The garage is an exciting place for a child – but auto product like gasoline and antifreeze can be deadly in a single mouthful – store auto products and lawn product up high and out of reach.
  • If you have questions call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222.
Henry Spiller
Henry Spiller is the director of the Central Ohio Poison Center. He has spent more than 30 years in toxicology, with more than 300 publications in the field. Henry is the proud father of five (3 girls, 2 boys) and an avid soccer player when his aging knees let him play.

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