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Adult prescriptions linked to poisoning rates in kids


As adult prescription medication use has increased, so have rates of poisonings in children with these medications, according to a study.

Researchers with Boston Children’s Hospital and other facilities found poisonings in children strongly correlated with rising rates of use of several adult medications, including diabetes drugs, statins and other lipid-lowering medications, beta-blockers and opioids.

The researchers used two databases to compare monthly pediatric poisonings with the number of prescriptions written for adults from 2000 through 2009. They found a significant association between adult prescriptions and poisonings of children for those medications, with the strongest association found for opioids.

Across medications, the greatest risk of poisoning was among children up to age 5, followed by 13- to 19-year-olds. Rates of ED visits were highest for poisonings with oral hypoglycemics and beta-blockers, while serious injuries and hospitalizations occurred most often with opioids and hypoglycemics.

The findings support the need for specific strategies to prevent prescription drug ingestions, the authors wrote June 3 on the website of the journal Pediatrics. The strategies should take into account specific ages for children and particular types of medication.

Ingestion in young children is more likely to be related to exploratory behavior that results in unintentional exposure to medication, for example. In older children and adolescents, ingestion is more likely to be intentional, such as for recreational use or to cause self-harm.

Read a PDF of the study:


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