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Kids in America get their hands on prescription medicine at least half a million times annually

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 20th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Take care on putting your prescription drugs away, an advocacy group warns. On average, American kids get into medicine that isn't theirs - or take the wrong medication on average of half a million times a year.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Ask any parent, and they will tell you they store medicine where children can't get them," Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide said in a release. "But they might not be thinking of pills stored in purses, vitamins left on counter tops or a diaper rash remedy near a changing table."

Safe Kids Worldwide is comprised of a group of organizations intent on helping parents prevent unintentional injuries to children. "An In-Depth Look at Keeping Young Children Safe Around Medicine," in their new report examines how many poisoning accidents happen to kids who unintentionally take or receive the wrong medication.

Compiled from information from the U.S. consumer Product Safety Commission, the report gleaned statistics from poison control centers as well as information provided from several focus groups consisting of moms.

It was discovered that for every minute of the day, a poison control center receives a call about a potential medicine poisoning for a child age five years old or younger. Every eight minutes, a child goes to the emergency room for medicine poisoning. Even more alarming, is that the numbers have increased 30 percent over the last decade.

Safe Kids Worldwide believes that the uptick in accidents is due to the increased amount of medications left lying around in the home. Eight out of 10 adults said that they took at least one medicine or vitamin in the past week, and three out of 10 said they took five more.

Eighty-six percent of the emergency room cases were due to kids taking medication that belonged to an adult. In 43 percent of the cases, the medication belonged to a relative like an aunt, uncle or grandparents, whose medications accounted for 38 percent of the poisonings. A mother's medication was the culprit in 31 percent of the cases.

In 67 percent of the overall medicine poisoning cases, the medication was within reach of the child like in a purse, on the counter or under a sofa cushion. In many instances, the medication that was taken was found on the floor or had been misplaced. Twenty percent came from a purse, bag or wallet, and another 20 percent had been left out on counters, dressers tables or nightstands. An additional 15 percent were in a pill box or bag of pills, 6 percent were inside a cabinet or drawer, and 12 percent were in other locations.

The main medication that kids were able to get into was ibuprofen. "Curious kids can get into trouble fast," Carr said. "It only takes a few seconds for children to get into medicine that could make them very sick."

National Poison Prevention Week runs from March 17 through the 23 this year.

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