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Drug Poisoning in Children Tied to the Increase in Adult Prescriptions

Update Date: Jun 03, 2013 11:54 AM EDT
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Prescription drugs are meant to help patients heal from whatever diseases they have. Unfortunately, these types of drugs can be as easily abused as illegal street drugs, leading to thousands of preventable deaths and accidents per year. In a new study, researchers found that over the past few years, the number of prescription medications for American adults have increased. This rise in drugs has now been tied to an increased rate of drug poisoning in young children and teenagers.

In this study, the researchers studied the data compiled from two databases. They compared the monthly number of children who suffered form drug poisoning to the rate of adult prescriptions from 2000 to 2009. The researchers noted that within this time span, there was an increased number in adult prescriptions for diabetes drugs, statins and other medications, such as beta-blockers and opioids. The researchers calculated that from 2001 to 2008, the rate of emergency department visits that resulted from medication exposure increased by 30 percent for young children. The rate of hospitalizations due to the same reasons increased by 36 percent. The authors of the study found that the strongest relationship was between lipid medications and beta-blockers and the rate of hospitalizations.

The study also concluded that children under five-years-old were at the highest risk of drug poisoning. For this age group, the leading cause of drug poisoning is accidental consumption. The second at risk age group was for young adults between 13 and 19. For this group, however, the cause of drug poisoning is attributed to recreational abuse.

The findings suggest that the current programs that were developed to protect children and teenagers from drug poisoning and abuse need to be revised. Even with tamper free bottles and more education about the repercussions from drug abuse, children continue to suffer from drug poisoning. The researchers state that more age appropriate prevention tactics need to be created.

The study was published in Pediatrics

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