ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
Hip Replacement Boosts Mobility at Any Age
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
CANCER
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
CAREGIVING
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
New Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
DIABETES
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Eating your way to Good Health
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Hairspray Exposure Ups Risk for Birth Defect in Sons
Golf Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Players
Seasons Arriving 2 Days Earlier, Study Says
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
FITNESS
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Parents Influence Sex Decisions, Hispanic Teens Say
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
MENTAL HEALTH
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
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Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings

TUESDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The leading cause of accidental poisonings among American children can be found in the family medicine cabinet, a new government report shows.

Each year in the United States, more than 71,000 children aged 18 and younger are seen in emergency rooms for unintentional overdoses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, the researchers found.

In fact, more than two-thirds of emergency department visits are due to poisoning from prescription and over-the-counter medications -- that's more than double the rate of childhood poisonings caused by household cleaning products, plants and the like, the team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"Medication overdoses are most common among 2-year-olds," added lead researcher Dr. Daniel Budnitz, director of the CDC's Medication Safety Program in the division of health-care quality promotion. "About one out of every 180 2-year-olds visits an emergency department for a medication overdose each year."

Dr. Robert Geller, a professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and medical director of the Georgia Poison Center, said that "the number children seen in the emergency room due to overdoses that are unintentional or medication errors is remarkable."

Geller noted that many more people reach out to poison control centers for help than show up at the hospital. "Right now, poison centers are having their funding cut," he noted. "If poison centers are less available, the number of children going to emergency rooms will rise."

More than 80 percent of these overdoses are due to unsupervised ingestion, Budnitz noted. "Basically, it's young children finding and eating medicine without adult supervision," he said. "They are found with an empty bottle or pills in their mouth or something, and they are taken to the emergency department."

In addition, medication errors by caregivers or adults and misuse of drugs by preteens and teens cause about 14 percent of accidental poisonings, Budnitz said. "Basically, that's not following directions," he said.

The report appears online Aug. 4 in advance of publication in the September print edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

For the study, Budnitz's team used 2004 and 2005 data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to estimate the number of emergency department visits resulting from unintentional medication overdoses for children aged 18 and younger.

The most common medications accidentally taken by children are acetaminophen, opioids or benzodiazepines, cough and cold medicines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antidepressants, Budnitz said.

To help reduce the number of incidents of unintentional poisonings, especially in younger children, Budnitz believes drug manufacturers must create better child safety caps, including caps that limit the dose that can be dispensed.

Currently, the CDC is working with over-the-counter drug manufacturers to encourage the implementation of new "passive" safety caps, Budnitz said. These caps do not require that the user to do anything but close it to work, or they allow only a measured dose to be dispensed at one time.

There is a need to improve packaging to cut the number of cases of unintended ingestion, Geller said. "If you could make it harder for a kid who came upon a package to get the contents of the package, it would make it more likely they would never need to go to the emergency room," he noted.

Of course, there are things that can be done right now by parents and caregivers, Budnitz said. These include making sure the cap is tightly secured after taking medication and placing the bottle well out of the reach of toddlers.

While many overdoses are accidental, the dangers of opioid use among teens is the subject of a new study in this month's Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. That study, from University of Michigan researchers, found that pain relief is not the main reason that one in 10 high school seniors have tried opioid drugs. The most common reasons included relaxation, feeling good or getting high, experimentation and then pain relief. Students used drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone (Oxycontin), hydromorphone, meperidine, morphine and codeine without a prescription, the researchers found.

The dangers of misused cold medications for infants and young children has also been a topic of recent debate among experts. Following concerns raised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, leading drug makers in October voluntarily withdrew oral cough and cold medicines marketed for use in infants.

The move affects only "infant" oral medicines, not those intended and labeled for use in children aged 2 and older. And it comes as U.S. regulators review the products' safety, following reports of dozens of deaths since 1969.

"The reason the makers of over-the-counter oral cough and cold medicines for infants are voluntarily withdrawing these medicines is that there have been rare patterns of misuse leading to overdose recently identified, particularly in infants, and safety is our top priority," Linda A. Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, said in a statement at the time.

SOURCES: Daniel Budnitz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Medication Safety Program, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Robert Geller, M.D., professor, pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, medical director, Georgia Poison Center, and chief, Emory Pediatric Staff, Grady Health System; Aug. 4, 2009, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, online