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Childhood Medication Poisoning On The Rise
Updated May 5, 2013 12:10 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(UNDATED) - Approximately 165 children end up in the emergency room every day after getting into medication, making it the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths among children.

Theresa Seiger, of RNN, reports Safe Kids Worldwide found that while the number of children who die of poisoning has been cut in half since the late 1970s, the percentage of deaths due to medications has nearly doubled from 36 percent to 64 percent.

"Roughly four school busloads of children are seen in emergency rooms for medication-related treatment every day in the U.S.," said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. "Every one of those trips was preventable."

Each year, more than 60,000 children younger than 5 are treated in emergency departments because they accidentally took medicine they weren't supposed to, or in high quantities. This trend is especially dangerous for younger toddlers. According to the report, one in every 150 2-year-olds is sent to the hospital for medication-related poisoning.

"Parents may not be aware of the danger posed by leaving medications where young children can reach them," said Dan Budnitz, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Medication Safety Program.

The group launched the Up and Away and Out of Sight program in December 2011 with a number of organizations across the country. The program aims to educate parents about how easy it is for kids to get into and take medicine without supervision.

"Even with improvements to packaging, no medication package can be 100 percent childproof," said Richard Dart, president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The organization partnered with the CDC for the program.

"Poison centers receive calls every day about young children getting into medicines without adult supervision," he said.

According to the report, 23 percent of cases managed by poison control centers in 2010 involved medication-related poisonings of children age 5and younger.

"Ultimately, safe storage and safe dosing means safe kids," Carr said.

Safe Kids Worldwide is an umbrella organization working against childhood injury in 21 countries. The group announced Tuesday that it would be working with the CDC's Up and Away and Out of Sight program as part of a community-outreach strategy.

The organization suggests parents and family members keep medications and vitamins out of the reach of children, adhere strictly to dosage guides on children's medicine, use appropriate dosing devices and program the national poison control center phone number (1-800-222-1222) into their phones.

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