Washington, Sep 16 (IANS): The number of infants hospitalised after accidentally swallowing a toxic drug dose has shot up dramatically in recent years in the US.
This has prompted the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to set up the PROTECT Initiative to prevent unintended drug overdoses in children.
Randall Bond, emergency medicine physician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, says exposure to drugs accounted for most of the emergency visits (55 percent), admissions (76 percent) and significant harm (71 percent).
Bond studied 453,559 children, who were five years old and younger and exposed to a potentially toxic dose of a single drug, either prescription or over-the-counter, the journal Paediatrics reports.
"The problem of paediatric medication poisoning is getting worse, not better," says Bond, who is also medical director of the Drug and Poison Information Centre at Cincinnati Children's, according to a Cincinnati statement.
"More children are exposed, more are seen in emergency departments, more are admitted to hospitals, and more are harmed each year," said Bond.
Levels of ingestion of opioids, most often prescribed to treat pain; sedatives-hypnotics, frequently prescribed as sleep aids; and cardiovascular medications were particularly high.
Bond studied patient records from 2001 to 2008 in the National Poison Data system - an electronic database of all calls to members of the American Association of Poison Control Centres.