Adults unintentionally make it easy for young children to eat dangerous meds

New research highlights the need to keep medications in their child-resistant containers. The study—which involved calls to five U.S. poison control centers by researchers from CDC, Emory University School of Medicine, and the Georgia Poison Center—is published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

New research highlights the need to keep medications in their child-resistant containers. The study—which involved calls to five U.S. poison control centers by researchers from CDC, Emory University School of Medicine, and the Georgia Poison Center—is published in the Journal of Pediatrics. According to the research, more than one-half of the time when children get into prescription medications, the drug had already been removed from the child-resistant packaging by an adult. "These data suggest it may be time to place greater emphasis on encouraging adults to keep medicines in containers with child-resistant features," says the study's senior author, Daniel Budnitz, MD, MPH, of CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion. "There is an opportunity here for innovative medication container options that promote adult adherence and provide portability and convenience, while maintaining child safety." Four common scenarios identified in the study were that the medication was removed from its original container to take as prescribed, with the medication put into an organizer that was not child-resistant; the medication was removed for ease of travel or transport and put into baggies or other small containers that were not child-resistant; the medication was removed for convenience, with some left on countertops or a bedside table for the patient to take later; and, finally, the medication was removed unintentionally, as some may be accidentally spilled or dropped and then missed when picking them up. The most common scenarios also varied by type of medication. Additionally, while children most often got into their parents' medications, for some prescription drugs that can be very harmful to young children in small amounts—such as cardiac medications—more than one-half belonged to the grandparents, highlighting the importance of reminding them, as well as parents, about keeping medications up and away and out of the reach and sight of children.