Medications More Accessible to Kids at Grandparents' House


Almost a quarter of grandparents store prescription medications in places children can easily access, according to results of a recent poll.

Almost a quarter of grandparents store prescription medications in places children can easily access, according to results of a recent poll.

Grandparents are 4 times as likely as parents to store prescription medications in places children can easily access, according to results of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, which was released on April 16, 2012. All poll participants were parents or grandparents of children 1 to 5 years old. Once complete, the sample was weighted to reflect Census Bureau population figures.

Virtually all adults keep OTC medicines at home, and 79% of parents and 85% of grandparents keep prescription drugs at home, the poll found. Almost a quarter of grandparents and 5% of parents reported storing prescription medications in easily accessible spots. Meanwhile, 18% of grandparents and 8% of parents store OTC medicines in easily accessible locations. (Places considered easy-to-access range from a daily-dose pill box to keeping medication containers within a child’s reach.)

The report authors note that every 10 minutes a child younger than 6 years old is brought to the emergency department after accidentally taking medicine. Unintentional poisonings from swallowing prescription or OTC medications cause more emergency department visits than car accidents for young children, they add. The most common prescriptions children accidentally ingest are painkillers that contain morphine or a morphine-like ingredient, according to the report. The most common OTC medicine ingested by children is acetaminophen.

The authors asked participants whether they would support requirements for single-dose packaging for medicines, including capsules, tablets, and liquid medicines. Two-thirds of study participants said they would support the requirements, although the authors noted several hurdles to the plan.

“The support for potential new requirements for single-dose dispensing of medicine in solid and liquid format is quite strong,” Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, the poll’s director, said in a press release. “However, there may be barriers to passage of such legislation—not the least of which are environmental concerns about increasing packaging.”

As a result of these hurdles, the authors suggest that the poll reinforces the importance of existing safety guidelines, including closing caps tightly and keeping medications out of children’s reach.

“Emergency room visits for accidental poisonings among young children have become much more frequent in the last decade,” Dr. Davis said in the press release. “We hope the results of this poll are a reminder to parents, grandparents, and all those who care for young children: Check around your homes to make sure that medicines are safely stored out of reach.”

To learn more about the dangers of accidental consumption of medications by children, read the following:

Guard Your Meds: Spreading the Word

Preventing Accidental Poisonings in Children

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