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7 Drugs That Can Kill Children with a Single Pill

April 06, 2010 | 125,042 views
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children, toddlers, babiesEven parents who keep medicines out of their children's reach are at risk of an emergency.

The Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America notes that in 50 percent of all childhood accidental poisonings, the medication bottle was only "out" for a short amount of time as it was being used.

Here are some of the more common medicines that can lead to emergencies when accidentally ingested by kids:

  • Heart Pills -- In children, they can cause dangerously low blood pressure and heart rate, and even lead to shock.
  • Muscle Rubs -- Camphor is especially dangerous because ingesting it works so quickly; symptoms occur within 10-20 minutes, and often children can go into seizures without any warning.
  • Prescription Pain Medications -- For an infant, even half a tablet of hydrocodone can be lethal.
  • Aspirin and Oil of Wintergreen -- Oil of wintergreen is particularly hazardous because its pleasant smell tempts toddlers to ingest it, but one teaspoon of oil of wintergreen is the equivalent of nearly 90 baby aspirins -- a life-threatening dose for a toddler or child.
  • Antidepressants -- After pain medications, antidepressants are the second highest cause of accidental death from poisoning in children younger than 6.
  • Blood Pressure Patches, Eye Drops, and Nasal Sprays -- These medications, designed to be absorbed over time through your skin, can lead to serious consequences when ingested by a toddler. As little as 6 ml can lead to a coma.
  • Diabetes Drugs -- As these medications are more commonly prescribed, the incidence of pediatric poisonings has also increased, with over 2,500 occurrences in the United States in 2001.

What Are GMOs?

From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.

Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.

Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.


Donate Today!

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It is no mystery to most of you reading this that the reliance on drugs to treat disease symptoms is a choice that results in hundreds of thousands of premature deaths every year in the U.S. alone and causes needless pain and suffering in millions of others.

One of the uncommonly appreciated side effects of this approach are the results of accidental use of these dangerous drugs.

A young child can grab a pill off the floor and swallow it in the blink of an eye. Tragically, that is often all it takes to cause life-threatening, and sometimes fatal, reactions in their small bodies.

There were nearly 2.5 million calls involving human exposure to poisons made in 2008, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System 26th Annual Report. Of them, half involved children younger than 6, and nearly 39 percent involved exposures to children younger than 3 years.

Because medications are so common, a child can be exposed not only at home when a parent takes a bottle out of the medicine cabinet, but also just about anywhere a pill can fall out of someone’s pocket. This is why it’s so important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a medication poisoning.

What are the Signs Your Child Has Ingested a Potentially Lethal Medication?

If you see your child ingest a pill or medication of any kind, don’t wait to take action. Your child may appear fine at first, but deadly side effects can appear hours later when it’s too late.

So, if you’re in the United States, call 911 or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 if you even suspect your child has eaten an adult (or unknown) medication. If you’re in another country, contact emergency help immediately.

Likewise, if your child is displaying any of the poisoning symptoms below, you should call for help immediately.

  • Seizures
  • Low blood pressure or heart rate
  • Delirium
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Coma

Most of you reading this are probably well aware of the importance of keeping all medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, pill form or liquid, out of the reach of children. If you take any of the seven medications listed above, it is especially important to keep them away from your children at all times, because even a single pill can be deadly.

In addition to keeping these items in a cabinet out of children’s reach, there are simple child-safety locks that can be installed on cabinets to keep little hands out … and these devices can literally be lifesaving.

If you have to use drugs for any reason and have children who live with or visit you, it is also absolutely imperative NOT to remove the child-proof caps, and to be very careful not to drop any pills on the floor (at home or when you’re visiting a friend or in a public place).

Even eye drops and vapor rubs can quickly lead to seizures, lethargy, coma and death in toddlers, so please don’t take any chances.

Even Medications Made for Children Can be Harmful

Along with making sure your children do not accidentally ingest any lethal medications, you need to be very cautious with the drugs you intentionally give your children as well.

Just because a medication is easy to obtain over-the-counter (OTC) or is prescribed to you by a doctor doesn’t mean it’s harmless -- especially to young children.

In 2004 and 2005, adverse drug events were the third leading cause of nonfatal injuries among infants treated in hospital emergency departments. They were also the sixth leading cause of nonfatal injuries among children 1 to 4 years old.

Further, as often as drugs are administered to infants and young children, it’s easy to forget that 75 percent of all prescription drugs do NOT have labeling instructions for children, leaving their use in children up to your doctor’s discretion.

So using these drugs on kids is like throwing darts in the dark. It’s pure guesswork.

Throwing Darts in the Dark...

Since information on how to prescribe medications to children is so scarce, doctors often rely on the flawed assumption that children are simply smaller versions of adults.

In reality, however, drugs act much differently in children. For instance, children may process drugs more quickly than adults do, and because children are still developing, drugs could stunt physical growth or impair emotional and cognitive development.

Among the limited number of drugs that have been tested for pediatric safety and effectiveness, it has been found that:

  • One-fifth of drugs that work in adults are ineffective in children
  • One-fifth of the drugs were being prescribed at the wrong dosage
  • One-third of the drugs caused unexpected side effects, some of which were potentially fatal

A classic example of the dangers surrounding medications for kids was highlighted recently concerning children’s over-the-counter cold medicines.

These drugs were over prescribed to well-intentioned parents looking to soothe their children, despite the fact that there was very little evidence that they worked. Instead, there was growing evidence that many of these drugs were fraught with side effects.

Please realize that nearly all of the problems for which kids are given drugs can be resolved using natural approaches. If you have a specific challenge, such as ADHD, allergies or obesity, that you’d like to address using safe, drug-free methods, please use the search feature at the top right of this page to get the answers you’re looking for.

Other Common Poisons to Watch Out For

Medications are a common poison for kids, but they’re not the only one. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the most common poisons for children are:

  • Cosmetics such as perfume or nail polish, and personal care products such as deodorant and soap.
  • Cleaning products (laundry detergent, floor cleaners, etc.).
  • Pain medicines (analgesics) such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Foreign bodies and toys including silica gel packages to remove moisture in packaging and glow products.
  • Topical preparations such as diaper rash products, hydrogen peroxide, acne preparations, or calamine lotion.

If you switch your home over to natural and safe cosmetics, personal care products and cleaning supplies, you can drastically cut down on your child’s risk of poisoning from such products.

However, even some “natural” products can be dangerous to kids. For instance, you need to be very careful with any supplements you take that contain iron. Iron overdose is a leading cause of poisoning deaths in children under 6, so keep any such supplements safely out of children’s reach.

Toothpaste that contains fluoride can also be very toxic, even if it’s marketed for children. Although I recommend ditching fluoride toothpaste for a number of reasons, it’s important to be aware that if your child swallows a large amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste, you need to call for emergency help immediately.


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