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Unintentional Poisoning of Children Rises, Study Says [AUDIO]

Every parent knows to store medicine out of the reach of small children and yet, each year more than 67,000 youngsters are treated in emergency rooms for unintentional poisoning, which is a 30 percent increase over the last decade.

Emergency Room
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

In 2011, 25 children died as a result of medication exposure.

In New Jersey, more than 1,300 children under the age of 6 were treated in emergency rooms in 2011 and more than 150 were hospitalized for medicine exposure.

Nationwide every 8 minutes, a child 4-years-old and younger is seen in an emergency room for reasons related to medication.

Why is it Happening?

“There are more medications in our homes these days and while parents know to keep medication up and away from children, they often leave them in easy-to-access places, whether it’s a vitamin they use on a daily basis that they want to keep handy or a prescription medicine that they want to be reminded to take,” said Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Our message is put them away every single time, up and away and out of the reach of kids every single time.”

Children are finding medications on the ground, in purses and bags, on counter tops and night stands.

“They’re also finding them in pill boxes,” Carr said. “Pill boxes are not at all child resistant. So, kids see them, they pattern our behavior and they are getting into adult medication.”

“We have to be really careful about where we’re putting out meds and how we’re keeping them away from kids.”

Ibuprofen is #1 Reason for Poison Control Calls in NJ

“It’s a good thing that we have treatment available for chronic or serious conditions, but it’s also routine things. Diaper rash remedies are the number two reason that parents are calling the poison control center. Ibuprofen is number one. We can avoid the 67,000 visits to a hospital or the 12,000 plus hospital visits that occur if we keep all medications out of the reach of children,” Carr said.

In addition to prescription medications, there are many over the counter items that need to be stored away as well. That includes diaper rash products, rubbing alcohol, eye drops and vitamins.

“Vitamins are a problem is they’re taken as an overdose because of excessive levels of vitamins A, D and K or iron. That overexposure can cause serious problems for a child.”

Parents and caregivers should always be familiar with poison control centers. The number is 1-800-222-1222.

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