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Adult Prescription Drug Use Linked to Poisonings in Children

6/3/2013 For Release:  June 3, 2013

As adult prescription medication use has increased, so have rates of poisonings in children with these medications, according to a study in the July 2013 Pediatrics. The study, “Adult Prescription Drug Use and Pediatric Medication Exposures and Poisonings,” published online June 3, found poisonings in children were strongly correlated with rising rates of use of several adult medications, including diabetes drugs, statins and other lipid-lowering medications, beta-blockers, and opioids.  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. Emergency department visits were highest for poisonings with oral hypoglycemics and beta-blockers, while serious injuries and hospitalizations occurred most often with opioids and diabetes medications. According to the study authors, the findings support the need for specific strategies to prevent prescription drug ingestions that take into account specific ages of children and particular types of medication. 

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.