Wednesday, August 12, 2009

CDC: 71,000 children visit ER for accidental medication overdoses each year

Consumer Reports advises:

In a report on poisoning that focused on children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that prescription and over-the-counter medications account for almost 7 out of 10 emergency room visits for childhood poisonings. Each year more than 71,000 children ages 18 and younger visit hospital emergency rooms for unintentional medication overdoses. Most of the ingestions are among toddlers.

"Unsupervised medication ingestions caused over 80 percent of the emergency department visits. These emergency department visits for unsupervised ingestions are ten times more common than overdoses from medication errors by a parent or caregiver," said Daniel Budnitz, M.D., the senior study author.

The medications children most often consumed included acetaminophen (such as Tylenol), opioids (such as Percodan) or benzodiazepines (such as Valium and Xanax), cough and cold medicines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as aspirin and ibuprofen), and antidepressants.

One explanation for the increase, according the report, is that more adults and children are taking medications at home and more are taking multiple medications. "The high frequency of medication usage and the rising number of medications stored in American homes increases the potential for medication overdoses ... especially among children," the report states.


For additional information contact:

Alan L. Morton
1005 North Eighth Street
Post Office Box 420
Boise, ID 83701-0420
Telephone: 208.344.5555
Toll Free: 866.946.1669 (866.WIN.1.NOW)
Facsimile: 208.342.2509

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