While medications are vital for our children’s health, the fact remains that they can seriously poison them as well. Medication poisoning is a leading cause of children’s injuries in the United States. Each year, around 60,000 kids are rushed to emergency rooms after getting into medications. America’s poison control centers manage around 500,000 pharmaceutical exposures in children each year. Today, we want to talk to you about the steps you can take to prevent medication poisoning in children.
What we know about medication poisoning in children
According to WebMD, the number of accidental poisoning deaths linked to medication poisoning has doubled from 36% to 64% over a 25 year time period.
The highest rates of all poisonings in the United States occurs in the one to two-year-old age ranges. Children younger than six years old comprise of nearly half of all poison exposures in the country. When it comes to pediatric exposures, some of the leading caused of poisoning include:
- Topical medications
- Dietary supplements/herbals/homeopathic medications
According to the West Virginia Poison Center, the medication or drug they receive the most calls about is Suboxone, also known as buprenorphine. This is an extremely dangerous substance for children, and you should take a child to the ER immediately if you suspect Suboxone exposure.
What are some steps I can take to keep my child safe?
- Store all medications and other household products out of a child’s sight. It is recommended that adults do not take their own medications in the view of children because kids imitate the actions and behaviors of adults.
- Keep an eye on young children at all times. A Safe Kids report says that 95% of all unintentional medication poisonings that resulted in ER visits were caused by a child who got into medicine while their parent or guardian was not looking.
- Children will open anything they can, so make sure to keep all cabinets and drawers locked with child safety devices.
- Talk to your children about the dangers of taking any medications you do not give to them. Remember, many prescription and non-prescription medications could be mistaken as candy by children.
- Make sure you close all child-resistant caps on medicine bottles.
- Throw out any medications that are unused, unneeded, or expired. This includes prescription or over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or supplements.
- Read all medication labels carefully before giving your child any medications. This includes reading and understanding all possible side effects and dosages for their age range. Never give your child any prescription medication that is not specifically prescribed to them. Young children respond differently than adults to certain medications. Be sure to use only approved measuring devices when giving your children dosages of medications. Spoons are not accurate measures.
- Program the nationwide poison control center phone number in your mobile phone or have it written in a location everyone can see it quickly in case of an emergency: 1-800-222-1222. Call the poison control center if you think your child has ingested something or been exposed to a poison and they are awake and alert. If your child is experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.
- Remind all guests and babysitters to keep coats, bags, or purses with medications out of sight and away from a child’s reach when they visit your home.
- Never hesitate to call your doctor or pharmacist if you have a question about a medication your child has been prescribed or if your suspect the dosage is incorrect.