Child Self-Exposure to Meds Explains Most Drug Poisoning

Child self-exposure accounts for 95 percent of emergency visits from 2001 to 2008 in U.S.

FRIDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Child self-exposure to prescription medications was responsible for 95 percent of the cases of pediatric pharmaceutical poisonings between 2001 and 2008, with the greatest resource use and morbidity due to self-ingestion of prescription products, including opioids, sedative-hypnotics, and cardiovascular agents, according to a study published online Sept. 16 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

G. Randall Bond, M.D., from the University of Cincinnati, and colleagues investigated the medications and circumstances responsible for pediatric medication poisonings, resource use, and morbidity. Data from the National Poison Data System of the American Association of Poison Control Centers for 453,559 children (aged 5 years or younger) who ingested a potentially toxic dose of a single pharmaceutical product between 2001 and 2008 were assessed. The pharmaceutical agents were categorized as over-the-counter or prescription, and by functional category. Exposure was categorized as a therapeutic error or child self-ingested the medication. Emergency visits, admissions, significant injuries, and trends in these events for each substance category were assessed during the eight-year follow-up.

The investigators found that 95 percent of the visits were attributed to child self-exposure. The health care impact was largely dominated by child self-exposure to prescription products, which was responsible for 55 percent of the emergency visits (248,023), 76 percent of the admissions (41,847), and 71 percent of the significant injuries (18,191). Self-ingestion of prescription products, specifically opioids, sedative-hypnotics, and cardiovascular agents, attributed to the greatest resource use and morbidity.

"The greatest increases in all these variables have been from prescription pharmaceuticals, particularly opioid analgesics, sedative-hypnotics, and cardiovascular medications," the authors write.

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