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New Research Reveals Medications Are the Leading Cause of Accidental Poisoning Deaths Among Children Today

“Safe Storage, Safe Dosing” Campaign to Focus on Medication Safety

Washington, DC, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Today Safe Kids Worldwide released a new research report that found while the death rate among children from poisoning has been cut in half since the late 1970s, the percentage of all child poisoning deaths due to medications has nearly doubled, from 36 percent to 64 percent.

Safe Storage, Safe Dosing, Safe Kids: A Report to the Nation on Safe Medication examines trends in morbidity and mortality of medication poisoning among children ages 14 and under. The report underscores the challenge of medication-related poisoning among children and offers solutions that will reverse the trends. Safe Kids also proposes specific roles that parents and other caregivers, industry, governments, and the medical community can play in improving medication safety through safe storage and safe dosing.

“About 165 kids — or roughly four school busloads of children — are seen in emergency rooms for medication-related treatment every day in the U.S.,” said Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Every one of those trips was preventable. We can and must do better.”

Among young children, 95 percent of medication-related poisoning visits to emergency departments are caused by a child ingesting medication while unsupervised and approximately five percent are due to dosing errors made by caregivers.1 “Ultimately, safe storage and safe dosing mean safe kids,” said Carr. “Together with our partners, Safe Kids Worldwide is dedicated to reducing unintentional medication ingestions and medication dosing errors in children, as well as strengthening the poison control center infrastructure in case these poisonings still occur.”

The report launches an effort by Safe Kids to help prevent unintentional medication exposures, injuries and deaths in children. At both the national level and through its powerful U.S. network of 600 coalitions and chapters, Safe Kids will educate parents, grandparents and caregivers about the behavioral changes they need to make related to safe medication storage and dosing. This public education will be accomplished through a strategy involving community events, traditional and social media outreach, and full partnership in the Up and Away and Out of Sight educational program led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Did you know?

The report offers several reasons for the medication-poisoning: more medications than ever are in the home, especially prescription pain medication; the pace of today’s lifestyle may prevent caregivers from immediately putting medicines away in a high, out of sight and locked location after every use; a rise in multi-generational households in which children may now have greater access to grandparents’ medications; working and single parents relying on multiple caregivers, who may not coordinate closely on the timing of children’s dosages; and formulation of children’s medications that are designed to taste good but may entice children to take them when unsupervised. The report also urges government to enhance the structure and stabilize funding for poison control centers.

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About Safe Kids Worldwide
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations with the mission to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Twenty-one member countries and more than 600 coalitions and chapters across the U.S. bring together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.


1 Budnitz DS, Salis S. Preventing medication overdoses in young children: an opportunity for harm elimination. Pediatrics. 2011; 127(6): e1597-e1599.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC WONDER Compressed Mortality File, Underlying Cause-of-Death. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website. Available from: http://wonder.cdc.gov/mortSQL.html . Accessed February 15, 2012.

3 Bond GR, Woodward RW, Ho M. The growing impact of pediatric pharmaceutical poisoning. J Pediatr. 2011; 160(2): 265-270.

4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Put Your Medicines Up and Away and Out of Sight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/features/medicationstorage/. Accessed February 9, 2012.

5 Bond GR, Woodward RW, Ho M. The growing impact of pediatric pharmaceutical poisoning. J Pediatr. 2011; 160(2): 265-270.

6 Budnitz DS, Lovegrove MC. The last mile: taking the final steps in preventing pediatric pharmaceutical poisonings. J Pediatr. 2012; 160 (2): 190-192.

7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC WONDER Compressed Mortality File, Underlying Cause-of-Death. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website. Available from: http://wonder.cdc.gov/mortSQL.html . Accessed February 15, 2012.

8 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC WONDER Compressed Mortality File, Underlying Cause-of-Death. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website. Available from: http://wonder.cdc.gov/mortSQL.html . Accessed February 15, 2012.

9 McFee RB, Caraccio TR. “Hang up your pocketbook”- an easy intervention for the granny syndrome: grandparents as a risk factor in unintentional pediatric exposures to pharmaceuticals. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2006; 106(7): 405-411.


Videos

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According to Safe Kids Worldwide, each year more than 60,000 children are treated in emergency rooms because they got into medications while unsupervised. For tips on keeping your child safe, visit www.safekids.org.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, each year more than 60,000 children are treated in emergency rooms because they got into medications while unsupervised. For tips on keeping your child safe, visit www.safekids.org.
Safe Kids Worldwide says always put medicines and vitamins up and away and out of sight after every use. For more tips on keeping your child safe, visit www.safekids.org.
Safe Kids Worldwide says always put medicines and vitamins up and away and out of sight after every use. For more tips on keeping your child safe, visit www.safekids.org.
When giving medicine to children, Safe Kids Worldwide recommends to always read the label, follow the instructions and only use the dosing device packaged with the medication. For more tips on keeping your child safe, visit www.safekids.org.
When giving medicine to children, Safe Kids Worldwide recommends to always read the label, follow the instructions and only use the dosing device packaged with the medication. For more tips on keeping your child safe, visit www.safekids.org.
Safe Kids Worldwide recommends programming the nationwide Poison Help number – 1-800-222-1222 – into your phones. For more tips on keeping your child safe, visit www.safekids.org.
Safe Kids Worldwide recommends programming the nationwide Poison Help number – 1-800-222-1222 – into your phones. For more tips on keeping your child safe, visit www.safekids.org.

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