EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 7, 2014

Keeping children safe around pills and medications

A chronic diagnosis is seldom easy for the person receiving the news or his or her loved ones. Oftentimes, a new diagnosis can lead to an array of medications being prescribed. Though such medications can be a key component of successful treatment, extra pills in the home can pose additional hazards to children and even elderly residents who may inadvertently get into unsecured pills.

Antidepressants, opioids, steroids, anti-convulsants and radiopharmaceuticals may be prescribed to treat pain and other side effects of disease. When taken in the right doses, these medicines can help patients withstand and ultimately overcome their disease. In the wrong hands, the same drugs can prove poisonous, especially to young children.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 500,000 parents and caregivers per year call a poison control center because a child accidentally ingested medicine or was given the wrong dose. In 2011, 67,000 children were treated in an emergency room for medicine poisoning. Based on emergency room visits, many children come in contact with these medications in places other than the medicine cabinet. Kids may find spare pills on the ground, in a purse or bag or on a counter or nightstand.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a 160 percent increase in poisonings in children from 1999 to 2009. The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital says that kids ages five and younger are the most likely victims of prescription drug poisoning. In homes where there is an abundance of medications being used to treat cancer or other illnesses, diligence is needed on the part of adults.

Childproof bottles are seldom enough. Very often adults forget to close the lids properly. Tenacious children can sometimes figure out how to get lids off of bottles even if they are touted as childproof.

Parents taking medication might want to employ some additional safety measures in order to protect young children.

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