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Nearly 1 in 4 grandparents store prescription medicines where children can easily find them

Two-thirds of adults support single-dose packaging to avoid accidental poisoning, according to U-M's National Poll on Children's Health
Unintentional poisonings from medicines cause more emergency room visits for young children each year than do car accidents.

One key reason may be that nearly 1 of every 4 grandparents says that they store prescription medicines in easy-access ways, according to a new poll.

The University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health recently asked parents and grandparents of children aged 1 to 5 years about the presence of medicines in their homes and how they are stored.

"Every 10 minutes a young child in the U.S. is taken to the emergency room because of possible poisoning from swallowing a prescription medicine or over-the-counter medicine," says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.

"Emergency room visits for accidental poisonings among young children have become much more frequent in the last decade. We hope the results of this poll are a reminder to parents, grandparents and all those who care for young children: check around your homes to make sure that medicines are safely stored out of reach," says Davis, who also is associate professor in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School, and associate professor of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The poll results showed 23 percent of grandparents and 5 percent of parents reported storing prescription medicine in easy-to-access places, including daily-dose boxes that children can open. Eighteen percent of grandparents and 8 percent of parents said they store over-the-counter medicines in easily accessible spots.

The most common type of prescription in an accidental ingestion for young children is an opiate medicine, such as a morphine-related painkiller. The most common types of over-the-counter medicines that prompts emergency room visits for possible poisonings among young children include acetaminophen, used to reduce fever.

To keep children safe, parents and grandparents are generally urged to keep medicine safely out of reach of young children, in child-proof containers.

But the poll also found that about two-thirds of adults say they would support new laws that would require companies to create single-dose packages of tablets, capsules and liquid medicines that would make it harder for young children to ingest large quantities.

"The support for potential new requirements for single-dose dispensing of medicine in solid and liquid format is quite strong. However, there may be barriers to passage of such legislation – not the least of which are environmental concerns about increasing packaging," says Davis.

Broadcast-quality video is available on request. See the video here:

Full report: C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health

Website: Check out the Poll's new website: You can search and browse over 60 NPCH Reports, suggest topics for future polls, share your opinion in a quick poll, and view information on popular topics. The National Poll on Children's Health team welcomes feedback on the new website, including features you'd like to see added. To share feedback, e-mail

Twitter: @MottNPCH
Additional resources:
Safe Kids USA: Poison Prevention Fact Sheet
National Capital Poison Center: For Kids, By Kids: Poisons
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protect the Ones You Love: Poisoning
Purpose/Funding: The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health – based at the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan and funded by the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and the University of Michigan Health System – is designed to measure major health care issues and trends for U.S. children.

Data Source: This report presents findings from a nationally representative household survey conducted exclusively by Knowledge Networks, Inc. (KN), for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital via a method used in many published studies. The survey was administered in January 2012 to a randomly selected, stratified group of adults age 18 or older (n=2,131), from the KN standing panel that closely resembles the U.S. population. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect population figures from the Census Bureau. The survey completion rate was 60 percent among panel members contacted to participate. The margin of error is ± 1 to 8 percentage points.

To learn more about Knowledge Networks, visit

Findings from the U-M C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health do not represent the opinions of the investigators or the opinions of the University of Michigan.

Mary F. Masson | EurekAlert!
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