ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
A Little Drink May Be Good for Your Bones
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Get in Step With Summer Foot Care
CANCER
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Are Hospital Mobile Phones Dialing Up Superbugs?
Many Alzheimer's Caregivers Admit to Abusive Behavior
Caregivers Face Multiple Strains Tending Older Parents
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Six Healthy-Sounding Foods That Really Aren't
Eat Light - Live Longer
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Most Mt. Everest Deaths Occur Near Summit During Descent
Are Medical Meetings Environmentally Unfriendly?
Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure May Damage DNA
EYE CARE, VISION
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
FITNESS
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Bursts of Vigorous Activity Appear to Be a 'Stress-Buffer'
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
The Brain Comes Alive With the Sounds of Music
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
Daily Exercise at School Yields Rewards
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Music Soothes Anxiety as Well as Massage Does
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
The Unmedicated Mind
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
Natural Therapies for Menopause
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
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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