Preventing Childhood Poisoning

Most people regard their home as a safe haven, a calming oasis in an often stormy world. But home can be a dangerous place when it comes to accidental poisoning, especially accidental poisoning of children. One tablet of some medicines, for example, can do extensive damage to a child or even cause death.  

Childhood poisonings caused by accidental overdoses of iron-containing supplements are the biggest concern of poison control experts, consumer protection groups, and health care providers. Iron-containing supplements are the leading cause of pediatric poisoning deaths for children under 6 in the United States. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, from 1986 to 1994, 38 children between the ages of 9 months and 3 years died from accidentally swallowing iron-containing products. The number of pills consumed by these children varied from as few as five to as many as 98.  

The FDA is taking steps to protect children from iron poisoning by proposing regulations that will make it harder for small children to gain access to high-potency iron products (30 milligrams of iron or more per tablet). The FDA is also taking steps to ensure that health care providers and consumers are alerted to the dangers associated with accidental overdoses of iron-containing products, including pediatric multivitamin supplements that contain iron.  

Although iron poisoning is the biggest concern when it comes to childhood poisoning, there is also concern about other drugs, including:  

  • over-the-counter diet pills 
  • anti-depressant medications 
  • pediatric vitamins

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