Teens accidentally poisoning themselves

New study reveals teens are 6 times more likely to have serious outcomes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nearly half of the 1.34 million calls to poison centers for children each year are related to medicine.

While that number is alarming, the most surprising insight from a new study by Safe Kids Worldwide reveals that teens are at risk for unintentional medicine poisoning.

Teenagers in charge of taking their own medicine, generally between 15-19 years old, are making some potentially dangerous mistakes.  The top three:

  • Forgetting to take their medicine and then doubling up
  • Taking two medicines with the same ingredient
  • Taking the wrong medicine

  • "Teenagers who are taking a prescription medicine that happens to contain acetaminophen may not notice that some allergy and sinus medicines also contain acetaminophen," explained Cynthia Dennis with Safe Kids of Northeast Florida.  "They need to make sure they always read the labels of medicines they take, including over- the-counter medications," said Dennis.

    Medicines that ranked high in calls to poison centers around the country that resulted in serious medical issues for teenagers included those used to treat mental health conditions or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

    Most calls to poison control involve children between 1- 2 years old

    The most common medicines kids under the age of 4 get into are ibuprofen, multivitamins and diaper rash cream.  Parents and caregivers assume these over-the-counter medicines are not a danger to kids.  Iron and calcium multivitamins can be poisonous if too many are taken.  Also, keep in mind eye drops can also make children very sick and are rarely locked up in a medicine cabinet.

    Also consider this picture showing medications that, to children, look like candy.

    A 2013 Safe Kids study revealed that in 43 percent of emergency department visits resulting from young children getting into medicine, the medicine belonged to a grandparent, aunt or uncle.  Most frequently, children get into misplaced drugs found on the ground, on the nightstand, or in a purse.

    Be sure to also use the dosing device that comes with any medicine you may need to give your child.  Kitchen spoons aren't all the same and a teaspoon or tablespoon used for cooking won't measure the same amount as the dosing device.

    Save the toll-free poison help line on your phone and make sure your babysitters have it, too: 800-222-1222

    To read more about keeping your children safe click here for a link to Safe Kids website. 


    About the Author:

    Jennifer, who anchors The Morning Shows and is part of the I-TEAM, loves working in her hometown of Jacksonville.