Accidental Drug Poisonings Increase for Children During Holidays

Parents are encouraged to pay extra attention to make sure drugs are stored safely and youngsters don't accidentally sample them.
Nov. 26, 2008

The holiday season may be merry, but it also can be dangerous, especially to young children. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and Safe Kids Tucson warn parents that young children are at higher risk of accidentally getting into drugs during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

During these holidays, children under 5 are more frequently accidentally exposed to medications and household products.

Data from 2002 through 2006 show such calls to the poison center increased by almost three times on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the days immediately before and after, over the usual daily number of 66 calls.

"We get a lot more medication poisonings over the holidays," said Jude McNally, managing director of the poison center. "With family and friends visiting for celebrations, routines are disrupted and visitors may not be thoughtful about where they leave their over-the-counter and prescription medications. Parents need to pay extra attention to make sure drugs are stored safely and youngsters don't accidentally sample them."

The most common medications reported in such cases are cold products and cough medicines, liquid Tylenol, vitamins with iron and prescription drugs to treat high blood pressure, heart, diabetes and pain.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center and Safe Kids Tucson offer these tips for safety:

  • Poisonings often occur when medications are left out on counters and tabletops.
  • Stow visitors' luggage or purses in closets or cabinets that are beyond a curious child's reach.
  • When visiting with a young child, stay alert. The change of routine and environment encourages children to explore.

Call the poison center at 800-222-1222 anytime you think a child may have been exposed to a medication or product that could cause harm. The center is open 24 hours daily. More poison prevention tips are available at www.pharmacy.arizona.edu/outreach/poison.

About Safe Kids Tucson

Safe Kids Tucson is a network of community partners working to prevent unintentional deaths and injuries to children ages 14 and under.

About the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center
The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is a Center of Excellence at The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. The center is certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Specially trained pharmacists answer about 75,000 calls from Arizonans a year. About half of the calls concern a human exposure to something toxic, and about half of those calls involve young children.

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