The years that pass between parenthood and grandparenthood may change how consumers handle prescription medicine, especially around small children.
A University of Michigan poll, conducted by Mott Children's Hospital, found that one of every four grandparents admitted to storing medicine for convenience, not for safety. Parents, especially new parents, tend to be much more safety-conscious.
The relaxed attitude at grandma's house may be one reason, health officials say, that poisonings from prescription medicine are on the rise.
“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,” said Dr. Matthew M. Davis, 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.”
The poll results showed 23 percent of grandparents and five 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 eight 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.
How to keep children safe when they visit grandma and grandpa? The general rule is to keep medicine safely out of reach of young children, in child-proof containers.
The poll 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,” Davis said. “However, there may be barriers to passage of such legislation – not the least of which are environmental concerns about increasing packaging.”