Handful of Medications Caused Accidental Poisoning in Kids

Hospitalizations for prescription medication ingestion on the rise in kids

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Despite childproof packaging and other safety measures, rising numbers of children go to the hospital after ingesting prescription medicines each year. A new study identified the most often ingested medicines in an effort to keep children safer.

A few of the medicines were responsible for many of the poisonings, the study authors found.

The researchers said focusing prevention efforts on these medicines could keep children safer.

"Keep your medicines away from children in a locked drawer."

"To efficiently achieve large public health impact, strategies to reduce harm from unsupervised pediatric ingestions of prescription medications, such as the implementation of enhanced child safety packaging and patient/caregiver education, should target specific medications with the highest frequencies and highest rates of emergency hospitalizations," the study authors wrote.

Daniel Budnitz, MD, and team looked at data on medication-related hospitalizations across the US from 2007 to 2011. From that data, they estimated that 9,490 children younger than 6 went to the hospital for this each year.

More than 75 percent of the cases involved children 2 or younger.

Thomas Seman, MD, a pediatrician at North Shore Pediatrics in Danvers, MA, told dailyRx News that medications need to be in a secure spot away from children at all times.

"Oftentimes, the accidental ingestions occur at a grandparent, other relative or a friend's house," he said. "Or they can be found in a parent's bag and the child, naturally curious, while exploring his environment finds a bottle and opens it and eats some tablets."

The research team, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that a small number of these medicines caused a large number of the events.

Opioids caused 17.6 percent of the cases. Common opioids include Oxycontin, Kadian and Ryzolt.

Benzodiazepines followed at 10.1 percent of the cases. Common medicines in this class include Xanax, Valium and Klonopin.

Among active ingredients, buprenorphine (brand names Buprenex and Butrans) caused the most cases — at 7.7 percent. Clonidine (brand names Catapres and Kapvay) followed closely at 7.4 percent.

In total, the top 12 ingredients were responsible for 45 percent of the hospitalizations. The study authors said focus on prevention efforts for these medicines could keep more children from going to the hospital. They also called for more safety features on packaging.

"Individual dosing packs such as blister packs are protective of the medication and to children and are a great option, if available," Dr. Seman said. "There are many children every day who have accidental ingestions and the greatest source of preventions is our vigilance as parents."

The study was published Sept. 15 in Pediatrics.

The authors disclosed no funding sources or conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 15, 2014
Last Updated:
September 18, 2014