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July 23, 2020

Prevention of Unintentional Medication Overdose Among Children: Time for the Promise of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act to Come to Fruition

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia
JAMA. Published online July 23, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.2152

As the US struggled to address the rapid increase in prescription drug overdoses among adults in the 2000s, the number of medication overdoses among young children also increased from an estimated 57 000 emergency department (ED) visits among children younger than 6 years in 2004 to an estimated 81 000 in 2010.1 In contrast to adult overdoses, however, medication overdoses among young children have significantly declined since 2010, to an estimated 46 000 ED visits in 2018 (CDC unpublished data, February 2020). The vast majority of these overdoses (95%) involved unintentional exposures by children, and 5% involved errors from adults administering medications to children. While prescription status and owner of the medication were not always specified, the estimated proportions of these overdoses specifically related to prescription medications and over-the-counter (OTC) medications were 41% and 28%, respectively, for medications intended for use by adults and 6% and 11%, respectively, for medications intended for use by children (CDC unpublished data, February 2020).

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