Warning! Your Kids & Grandkids Think Gummy Meds Are Delicious

Mommies and Daddies, Grandmas and Grandpas, listen up.  There are many prescription and non-prescription medications kept around the home that could be a danger for your children/grandchildren should they find these and “taste” them.

One of the more common of these “medicines” include the variety of vitamins, minerals and supplements found in homes now.  While most vitamins are “benign” when inappropriately ingested, there are some that might cause problems in children who ingest large amounts, such as vitamin D, A, and certain minerals in excess.  Not all supplements and “alternative” medical cures have been regulated by our FDA and therefore the correct dosages of these have not been calculated. While ingestion of a single chewable, gummy or regular tablet would probably be OK in a child, it is most of the time impossible to say how many have been consumed.  As a result, even in adults, the dosage is not accurate and this is magnified in a smaller lighter- weight child.  Therefore,  these should be kept out of the reach of children.

Also among the most common of these are the pain relievers- such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.  Aspirin, fortunately, is not as popular as it used to be, but was responsible for a good proportion of accidental poisonings in children.  This medication in excess caused severe derangements in hydration and acid/base balance in children and occasionally led to death. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) in excess could lead to kidney problems and possibly go on to kidney dysfunction and failure, while acetaminophen, also in excess, has been responsible for liver problems and possible liver failure and death.  Treatment for any of these “poisonings” is not 100% effective and so, like all other issues, prevention is the best medicine.  The problem with these meds is that they are very common in households and are considered to be “benign” so efforts to hide them are not realized.  Also, we can’t forget that “normal dosages” for these drugs vary with age and weight, and children are at much higher risk than adults for complications at much lower doses.  This rule holds for all medications and drugs.

The stronger pain medications that could be found around the home after surgery or injury are far more dangerous in that they are almost all depressants and can slow down heart rate and respirations to the point of coma and death.

Specific medications for specific ailments; high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, etc. should always be kept locked up as, while these medications do a very good job for those who need them, can cause problems of varying nature if taken by those people (children) who do not need them. And again the rule of age and weight applies here also.

Antibiotics are found around the home when they are being used or if they are “saved to be used another day”. This is a very poor practice, but not uncommon, as the price of these drugs keeps going up- throw away any unused antibiotics.  Unless a person (child) is allergic to these medications, or consumes very large amounts they do not cause as many problems as the medications mentioned above.

As a rule, keep any medication and vitamins, minerals and supplements out of the reach of children and locked in a safe place- assume that any one or more of these could cause serious problems for your children or grandchildren.  If the child is found near an open bottle of any medication, particularly if there are traces of that medicine in or around his/her mouth or pills are found lying on the floor nearby, assume the worst and call poison control (everyone should have the phone number of local poison control centers nearby) and then the Doctor.  Have the bottle of the medicine in front of you when you call (if possible) so that you can answer any questions that are asked. Remember that prevention is the best “cure” for poisonings because there is often no good way of treating these problems after the fact.

US Toll-Free Poison Help Line

1-800-222-1222

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About the Author

Dr. Joseph Skoloff currently holds positions as Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Medical Schools of Georgetown, George Washington and the University of Virginia and is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Board of Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Joe believes strongly in the combined power of parent and physician working together for the health of their children. He is an advocate for children everywhere and can be reached at www.twitter.com/drjoeskoloff. Dr Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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