Acetaminophen Tops for Accidental Infant Poisoning
Other common dangers included cough/cold meds, ibuprofen and diaper rash creams, data shows
By Tara Haelle
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Infants are just as susceptible to accidental poisonings as older children are, especially when it comes to medication errors, new research reports.
A decade of poison control center calls in the United States showed that acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) was the most common medication mistake for infants. This was followed by H2-blockers (for acid reflux), gastrointestinal medications, combination cough/cold products, antibiotics and ibuprofen (such as Motrin or Advil).
The most common non-medication exposures were diaper care and rash products, plants and creams, lotions and make-up, the investigators found.
"I was surprised with the large number of exposures even in this young age group," said lead author Dr. A. Min Kang, a medical toxicology fellow at Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix in Arizona.
"Pediatricians typically do not begin poison prevention education until about 6 months of age, since the traditional hazard we think about is the exploratory ingestion -- that is when kids begin to explore their environment and get into things they are not supposed to," Kang added.
The findings were published online Jan. 13 and in the February print issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Kang and colleague Dr. Daniel Brooks reviewed all poison control center calls in a national database from 2004 to 2013 that related to babies younger than 6 months old.
There were more than 270,000 exposures reported during that time, 97 percent of which were unintentional. About half the calls were general unintentional ingestions, which includes children exploring their environment. Over one-third (37 percent), however, were related to medication mistakes, the study found.
With medication exposures, 47 percent involved dosage mistakes, and 43 percent involved giving a medication twice or too soon, giving a child the wrong medication or similar errors, the authors explained.
Acetaminophen was involved in more than 22,000 medication exposures and nearly 5,000 general exposures. This high rate reflects its frequent use because it's recommended instead of ibuprofen for infants, Kang pointed out.
"The concern with too much acetaminophen is liver failure although, luckily, young children are considered to be somewhat less likely to experience this than an adult because the metabolism is a little different," Kang said.