500,000 Times Each Year a Child Gets Into Medicine or Gets the Wrong Dose; 67,000 Children Treated in Emergency Rooms Each Year for Medicine Poisoning

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  March 20, 2013

MEDIA CONTACT:   Kelly Coffey, Media and Public Relations Manager
   (860) 837-5701; kcoffey@connecticutchildrens.org

HARTFORD, Conn. - Today Safe Kids Worldwide® released a new research report that found kids are getting into medicine at an alarming rate. Every minute of every day, a poison control center receive a call about potential medicine poisoning for a child age five and under. And 67,000 times each year, or every eight minutes, a young child goes to the emergency room for medicine poisoning. This is a 30-percent increase over the past 10 years.

In its report entitled “An In-Depth Look at Keeping Young Children Safe Around Medicine,” Safe Kids examines data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, information from poison control centers and findings from several focus groups among moms. The report reviews what is happening in households that leads to these disturbing numbers and offers parents simple things they can do to protect their children.

“Ask any parent, and they will tell you they store medicine where children can’t get them,” said Karen Brock Gallo, MPH, Director of Safe Kids Connecticut, a program of the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. “But they are might not be thinking of pills stored in purses, vitamins left on counter tops or a diaper rash remedy near a changing table.”

The increase in exposure reflects the increase in medicines in the home. Most adults take medicine or vitamins on a regular basis; eight out of 10 adults took at least one medicine or vitamin in the past week, and three out of 10 adults took five or more.  But they don’t always keep them up and away from kids. In 86-percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to an adult. 

“Curious kids can get into trouble fast,” added Brock Gallo. “It only takes a few seconds for children to get into medicine that could make them very sick. Take a look around your house to make sure all medicine is up and away and out of sight.”

Tips to Keep Kids Safe Around Medicine

  • Put medicine and vitamins up and away and out of sight. (In 67-percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the medicine was left within reach of the child, such as in a purse, on a counter, or under a sofa cushion.)
  • Even if you are tempted to keep it handy, put medicine out of reach after every use.
  • Look around your home for products you might not think about as medicine, like rubbing alcohol, eye drops or gummy vitamins, and store them out of the reach of children.
  • When you have guests in your home, offer to put purses, bags and coats where kids can’t get to them. (In 43-percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to a relative, such as an aunt, uncle or grandparent.)
  • Be alert to medicine in places your child visits. Take a look around to make sure there isn’t medicine within reach of your child.
  • Program the nationwide poison control center number (1-800-222-1222) into your phones.
  • Visit SafeKids.org for more tips on safe storage, safe dosing and safe disposal of medicine.

National Poison Prevention Week is March 17-23, 2013.
Download the report.            
Download the video.           
Download the complete list of safety tips.

About Connecticut Children’s Medical Center
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is a nationally recognized, 187-bed not-for-profit children’s hospital serving as the primary teaching hospital for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Named among the best in the nation for several of its pediatric specialties in the annual U.S. News & World Report “Best Children’s Hospitals” rankings, Connecticut Children’s is the only free-standing children’s hospital in Connecticut that offers comprehensive, world-class health care to children. Our pediatric services are available at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford and at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, with neonatal intensive care units at Hartford Hospital and the University of Connecticut Health Center, along with five specialty care centers and 10 other locations across the state. Connecticut Children’s has a medical staff of nearly 1,100 practicing in more than 30 specialties.

For more information, visit www.connecticutchildrens.org or connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/connecticutchildrens and Twitter at www.twitter.com/ctchildrens.

About Safe Kids Connecticut
Safe Kids Connecticut, a program of the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, is dedicated to reducing preventable injuries and death among Connecticut's children. Safe Kids Connecticut is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. For more information, visit www.ctsafekids.org.