Children Comprise Two-Thirds of ER Visits for Drug Ingestion

In 2008, nearly 70,000 children under 5 treated after accidentally swallowing drugs
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Children under the age of 5 made up two-thirds of emergency department visits for accidental ingestion of drugs in 2008, according to a new report issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The report, based on data captured by SAMHSA's 2008 Drug Abuse Warning Network, which monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits nationwide, was developed to inform policy makers and service providers on behavioral health issues.

The report showed that male children made up slightly more than half of emergency department visits for accidental drug ingestion in children under 5, 2-year-olds accounted for 42.3 percent of the visits, and 1-year-olds made up 29.5 percent of the visits. Central nervous system drugs were involved in 40.8 percent of the cases, mostly pain relievers (21.1 percent) and anti-anxiety and insomnia drugs (11.6 percent). Most patients, 85.3 percent, were treated and released, while 8.7 percent were admitted.

"Poisoning is one of the most common childhood injuries. Most of the time it happens right at home," SAMHSA administrator, Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., said in a statement. "Locking up drugs and properly disposing [of] leftover or expired drugs can save lives. Studies like this one that measure the impact on the health care system of accidental ingestion of drugs also [provide] us an opportunity to get the message out to parents and caregivers that there are simple steps they can take to prevent accidental drug ingestion."

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