Medication Overdoses in Children Create Large Burden

Cases accounted for more than two-thirds of ER visits for unintentional pediatric poisonings

MONDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Medication overdoses, particularly in preschoolers, account for a substantial portion of poisonings involving young people that are treated in emergency rooms, according to research published in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Sarah F. Schillie, M.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System on 3,034 cases of unintentional pediatric poisonings among children and teens under the age of 19 years seen in emergency departments in 2004 and 2005.

Based on the researchers' data, medication overdoses accounted for nearly 70 percent of emergency department visits for unintentional poisonings in this age group. Most visits (81.3 percent) involved children aged 5 and under. Also, most visits (82.2 percent) involved children taking medications without supervision, while medication errors and misuse accounted for 14.3 percent of visits.

"Medication overdoses among children, notably unsupervised ingestions, represent a substantial public health burden in terms of emergency department visits and hospitalizations," the authors conclude. "However, much of the morbidity from medication overdoses is potentially preventable through renewed injury-prevention efforts. New engineering approaches targeting unsupervised ingestions by children aged ≤5 years and the medications most commonly implicated may have the greatest impact in reducing the burden of outpatient pediatric medication overdoses."

Two co-authors reported stock ownership in a variety of pharmaceutical and other companies.

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Eric Metcalf

Eric Metcalf

Published on August 10, 2009

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