Adults unintentionally make it easy for children to eat dangerous pills, CDC says

National News

Prescription drugs at a pharmacy (Nexstar, file)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A new study reveals that adults may be unintentionally making it easy for young children to eat dangerous prescription drugs.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that each year there are around 400,000 poison center calls and 50,000 ER visits due to young children ingesting medications when adults are not looking. The new study finds that over half of those ER visits happened when the medication had already been removed from a child-resistant container by an adult and was easy for a child to access.

The study was based on calls to five U.S. poison control centers by researchers from the CDC, Emory University School of Medicine, and the Georgia Poison Center.

The study found four common scenarios in which young children get into prescription pills.

  1. Pills were removed from original container to remember to take as prescribed: Adults put pills into pill organizers that are not child-resistant
  2. Pills were removed from original container for ease of travel or transport: Adults put pills into bags or other small containers that are not child-resistant
  3. Pills were removed from original container for convenience: Adults leave pills out on countertops or bedside tables to take later
  4. Pills were removed from original container unintentionally: Adults sometimes spill or drop pills and miss some picking them up.

The study also revealed that the above scenarios’ frequency varied based on type of medication. ADHD medication and opioids were often not in any container at all when found by children. Diabetes drugs and cardiac medications were typically in pill organizers or bags. Nonprescription medications were found to be accessed in their original containers, which are often not child-resistant due to the low potential for toxicity.

The CDC recommends keeping medications in the original, child-resistant packaging, but is offering some advice for situations when pills must be removed from the original container.

  • Use a container that is child-resistant.
  • Securely re-close the container after every use.
  • Put the container up and away and out of a child’s reach and sight immediately after every use.
  • Keep purses, other bags and pockets with medicine inside up and away from children.
  • If pills are spilled, double check the area and make sure all pills are picked up.
  • Save the Poison Help number to your phone and call it right away if your child might have gotten into a medication or vitamin, even if you aren’t sure.

The Poison Help phone number is 800-222-1222. For more information, CLICK HERE.

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