Keeping Children Safe

 

If you keep an EpiPen Jr (epinephrine) auto-injector on hand in case a child has a severe allergic reaction, you need to know about the risk of cutting a child while the needle is under the skin if he or she moves during the injection. An EpiPen Jr auto-injector is a disposable automatic injection device filled with 1 dose of epinephrine. When the orange tip is pressed against a child's outer thigh until it "clicks" and then held there for 10 seconds, the dose is automatically delivered. Prompt treatment of severe allergic reactions in the home and community can be lifesaving and has resulted in better survival rates and less long-term effects. Most often, auto-injectors are used successfully without complications. But two children recently sustained cuts on their legs when using the EpiPen Jr.

Many parents like to rub numbing medications on their baby’s gums to treat the discomfort of teething. Products for this purpose, called topical anesthetics, are available for purchase over the counter (OTC). Examples include Anbesol and Orajel. There are also prescription products (e.g., viscous lidocaine) that doctors sometimes recommend. However, because of safety concerns, we do not recommend that babies receive medicines containing topical anesthetics.

Camphorated phenol is an antiseptic liquid containing camphor and phenol. These two ingredients, used in combination, are often used to treat pain and itching associated with conditions such as minor burns, cold sores, insect bites, itching skin and mild sunburn. Camphorated phenol is a liquid that must only be applied directly to the skin. Ingesting camphorated phenol can cause toxicity, especially in children.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body and is involved in the management of sleep and wake cycles. It is also available over-the-counter as a dietary supplement, promoted to help with jet lag and sleeplessness. Melatonin is available in a variety of dosage forms including, capsules, tablets, oral liquid, and now flavored oral film strips. The problem is the melatonin film strips and their containers look just like widely-available breath mint film strips.

In February, the Chicago Sun Times reported that 16 elementary school children had been taken to local hospitals with a sudden illness. The children were 9- and 10-year olds who began vomiting after eating “mints” given to them by another classmate. It was later found that these “mints” were actually nicotine-replacement lozenges, called NiQuitin Minis (Figure 1 on page 3). (NiQuitin is a product from the United Kingdom that is sold online; however, the Nicorette brand made in the US has a similar product.) The classmate found the lozenges at home and brought them to school to share.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is  alerting patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals of the importance of appropriate storage, use, application, and disposal of fentanyl patches (including Duragesic and generic products) to prevent potential life-threatening harm from accidental exposure to the active ingredient, fentanyl.

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 (10 mcg) 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 (10 mcg).

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.

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.

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Medication Safety Alerts

FDA Safety Alerts

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