ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
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Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
B Cells Can Act Alone in Autoimmune Diseases
CANCER
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
Gene Screen May Predict Colon Cancer's Return
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
CAREGIVING
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
Falls Are Top Cause of Injury, Death Among Elderly
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
DIET, NUTRITION
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Mediterranean Diet Enriched With Nuts Cuts Heart Risks
Antioxidant-Rich Foods Lose Nutritional Luster Over Time
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
Improved Fungicides May Be Easier on Environment
Topical Drugs May Pollute Waterways
EYE CARE, VISION
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
FITNESS
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
Be Healthy, Spend Less
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
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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