Childproof Caps Prevent Deaths

Little Hands Can't Open Pill Containers

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Sept. 20, 2002 -- Those pesky childproof medicine bottle caps could test the temper of Mother Teresa, but the fact is, they do their job -- keeping youngsters out of harm's way. The child-resistant caps may have prevented more than 90 deaths of children under 5 during the 17 years following the enactment of the packaging laws, according to a new study.

In spite of our frustration with childproof caps, child-resistant packaging has reduced aspirin poisonings, according to researcher Gregory B. Rodgers, PhD, of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. As a result, deaths of children under the age of 5 from aspirin poisoning decreased by 34%.

Conducted between 1958 and 1990, the study is the aftermath of several FDA conferences held in the late '50s and early '60s triggered by the excessive amounts of aspirin poisonings. From 1958 to 1963, there were an average of 120 deaths a year from aspirin poisoning in children under 5. Of all fatal child poisonings, aspirin poisoning accounted for a little more than 25%.

Officials are now encouraging the development of child-resistant caps that take more brains than brawn to open them. The goal is to decrease frustration with these caps while further reducing the number of childhood deaths from poisonings.

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