Although child-resistant packaging and public education efforts have helped to prevent accidental poisonings from medication, children younger than 6 years old are still at serious risk for emergency hospitalization following unsupervised ingestion of prescription drugs, according to a study published online September 15 for Pediatrics.
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA undertook a study to determine the most commonly implicated active ingredients responsible for childhood poisonings that required emergency hospitalization in the hope of identifying prevention and intervention strategies.
Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System—Cooperative Adverse Drug Event Surveillance project and IMS Health’s data of retail pharmacy prescriptions over a 5-year period from 2007-2011, the researchers estimated more than 9,000 annual hospitalizations in the United States following unsupervised ingestion of prescription drugs in children less than 6 years old. Three quarters of the hospitalized children were between 1 and 2 years of age and one-fifth had taken two or more medications.
“Opioid analgesics were implicated in a significantly higher proportion of hospitalizations (17.6%) than any other medication class. Other commonly implicated classes included benzodiazepines (10.1%), sulfonylureas (8.2%), beta-blockers (8.0%), centrally acting antiadrenergics (8.0%), and calcium channel blockers (7.8%),” the authors noted.