Each year there are about 400,000 poison center calls and 50,000 ER calls as a result of children ingesting medicines when grown-ups weren’t giving attention. The new analysis finds that more than half of the time when teenagers get into medicine pills, the drug had already been extracted from the child-resistant box by an adult.
The conclusions come from a research of calls to five U.S. poison control centers by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Emory University School of Medicine, and the Georgia Poison Center. The investigation issues this week in The Journal of Pediatricsexternal icon.
“These data imply it may be time to place more elevated emphasis on encouraging adults to keep drugs in containers with child-resistant features,” states the study’s senior author, Daniel Budnitz, M.D., MPH, of CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. “There is an event here for innovative medicine container options that support adult adherence and provide portability and support while maintaining child safety.”
Child-resistant packaging keeps kids safe – but only when pills are inside
The modern research found four everyday situations in which young kids get into prescription pills after the pills are out of their unique containers:
- Expelled to get to take as prescribed: Adults put pellets into pill organizers that are not child-resistant.
- Expelled for the efficiency of travel or transportation: Adults put pills into baggies or other small boxes that are not child-resistant to carry with them.
- Expelled for service: Adults give pills out on countertops or a bedside table for someone to take later.
- Excluded casually: Adults seldom spill or drop pills and may miss some when picking them up.
The most popular scenarios varied by type of medicine. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications (49%) and opioids (43%) were more often not in any box when found by young children. Diabetes drugs (34%) and cardiac medications (31%) were more often transferred to other containers such as pill organizers or baggies. Nonprescription drugs were most commonly obtained from the original containers, but for many of these medicines, child-resistant packaging is not required because of the low potential for toxicity.
Grandparents’ pill organizers often involved
Researchers also asked whose pills the children were getting into. Most of the time, the children got into their parents’ pills. Nevertheless, for some prescription medicines that can be very dangerous to young children in small amounts (e.g., diabetes or cardiac medications), over half belonged to grandparents.
Hence, it will be necessary to remind grandparents, as well as parents, about the value of keeping medications up and away and out of the reach and sight of children.
CDC suggests keeping medicines in the original child-resistant packaging. If one must remove pills from their original containers, a few cares can help keep children safe:
- Use a child-resistant box.
- 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, or pockets with medicines in them up and away from young children.
- If pills are spilled when taking or transferring medications, double-check to make sure that all medicines are picked up.
- Save the Poison Help number in your phone – (800) 222-1222 – and call right away if you think your child might have gotten into a medicine or a vitamin, even if you are not sure.
To Sum Up
To prevent serious cases of inaccuracy that can cost you an arm and a leg it is a good idea to check twice all you give your children. Awareness is the key to success.