Keeping Children Safe

 

Here is a mother’s blog, originally submitted to JNJParents, that caregivers of small children might find of interest. The author discusses a number of “safety gaps” when keeping medicines away from curious children.

Infants who are breastfed or partially breastfed should receive a daily supplement of vitamin D starting in the first few days of life. Breast milk has only 25 units of vitamin D per liter (that’s roughly a quart or about 32 ounces). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a daily dose of 400 units of vitamin D for infants. Infants who drink less than a liter of formula also may need a lower dose of a vitamin D supplement. Although formula is fortified with vitamin D, enough may not be consumed each day to get the total recommended dose of 400 units.

The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) is a national leader in vaccine education for both healthcare professionals and the public. Recently, IAC announced a new and improved website to help the public get the information they need about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases. Visit www.vaccineinformation.org for reliable information on vaccines and their importance.

Sixth grade marks the start of middle school for many American 11-year-olds. Research also indicates that it is the age that children begin to self-medicate. With that in mind, Scholastic and the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) have launched OTC Literacy, an educational campaign to raise awareness about over-the-counter medicine safety. The program is tailored to 6th graders and emphasizes that while OTC medicines are safe when used properly, it is critical to consult a parent or guardian before taking any medication.

In November 2011, we wrote about a May 2011 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning to not feed SimplyThick to infants who were born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Few caregivers are more devoted than parents when caring for a child. Yet, even the most cautious and educated parents will make mistakes when giving medicine to children or fail to protect children from accidental poisonings. Dangerous mistakes with medicines are three times more likely with children than adults,1 and more than half of all accidental poisonings—mostly with medicines—occur in children less than 5 years old.2 The list that follows, although not inclusive, covers ten important safety tips for parents.

Families take medications and vitamins to feel well and to stay well. But did you know that more than 60,000 young children end up in emergency rooms every year because they get into medicines when their parent or caregiver isn’t looking?

Recently we wrote about the tragic death of a 2-year-old child due to an accidental overdose of fentanyl after putting a used patch in his mouth. This was not the first time we wrote about a young child unintentionally gaining access to a powerful medicine. For this reason, we have often emphasized the importance of keeping all medicines up and away and out of reach of young children. But what about older children and teenagers?

Swallowing unintended objects and substances is a pretty common problem among sick patients. For example, patients recovering from anesthesia in a hospital or receiving other sedating medications may not be thinking clearly. These patients may rely more on instinct and grab what they believe has been left for them by their caregivers. However, even patients with a clear mind may simply trust that anything a nurse or physician leaves at the bedside is “safe” or “ready to use.”

Emily Jerry was just two years old when she died from a medication error made by a hospital pharmacy technician in Cleveland. She had undergone surgeries and four rounds of chemotherapy to treat what doctors said was a highly curable malignant tumor at the base of her spine.

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Medication Safety Alerts

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