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More Grandkids Poisoned by Grandparents' Medicine


Accidental poisonings from medicine cause more emergency room visits for young children each year than do car accidents, and one big reason may be that grandparents often store their prescription drugs in places easy for their grandkids to reach, says a new national poll.

The University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital recently polled parents and grandparents of children ages 1 to 5 about the presence of prescription meds in their homes and how the drugs were stored.

The poll found that the vast majority (98 percent) of grandparents of young children reported having medicine in their homes; 85 percent reported having prescription medications.

Nearly 1 of every 4 grandparents told researchers they store prescription medicines in easy-access ways, like easy-to-open containers or out in the open within reach of young children. Grandparents were also four times more likely than parents to report that they store medicine in places that children can easily reach.

The situation is especially troubling because medications are the leading cause of child poisoning today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 60,000 children are treated in emergency rooms each year because they swallowed medication when no one was watching, the CDC says; up to 20 percent of child poisonings involve a grandparent's medication.

To keep young children away from potentially harmful medicines, the CDC has a "Put Your Medicines Up and Away and Out of Sight" page of tips.

The nonprofit global association Safe Kids Worldwide also recommends:

  • Always put medicines and vitamins away after every use. Never leave them on the counter between dosings. Don't be tempted to "keep them handy" in a purse, backpack, or briefcase, or in an unlocked cabinet or a drawer within a child's reach.
  • Make sure that all medications in the child's environment are stored out of reach and out of sight.
  • Program the nationwide poison control center number (1-800-222-1222) into your phones.

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