Children five and under account for 88 percent of calls to poison
control centers for exposure to veterinary medicines, researchers
report in Pediatrics. In almost all of these cases, kids consumed
drugs intended for the family pet.
About one in four of these poisonings happened while someone was
trying to give medicine to a pet, the study also found.
“This could have happened if the pet spit the medicine out onto the
floor then the child ate it or if the medicine was mixed in with
food such as a hot dog or piece of cheese and the child ate the food
containing the medicine,” said study co-author Kristin Roberts of
the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s
Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
“The good news is that you can help keep everyone in the family a
little safer by storing medicine for pets up and away and out of
sight, only giving medicine to pets when the children aren’t in the
room and by making sure the pet has taken the medicine,” Roberts
added by email.
To assess the risk veterinary medicines pose to children, Roberts
and colleagues analyzed data on 1,431 calls to a regional poison
control center in Ohio from 1999 through 2013.
Most of the calls – 88 percent – related to medicines for dogs, the
In 93 percent of cases, children ate or drank pet medicines. Another
2.3 percent of the calls involved children getting veterinary drugs
in their eyes, and 1.1 percent of cases were for skin exposure.
While most instances happened at home and could be managed without a
visit to the doctor, children went to a health facility for
treatment in about 6 percent of cases.
When children did go to a hospital or health facility, they were
evaluated and treated or released in about 60 percent of cases.
When parents were told children needed to see a doctor, the most
common exposures were for pet pain medicines, or drugs for
parasites, convulsions or other ailments.
In most cases, the children had few or no bothersome symptoms or
didn’t require follow-up care because their exposure to the pet
medicines was determined to be nontoxic or not that harmful.
The study was limited by the fact that it was done at a single
poison center, and recording of different types of veterinary
medicines by poison control specialists was inconsistent.
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Not all families have pets, and the odds of poisoning from
veterinary medicines may be lower than for other things around the
house, said Dr. Carl Baum, a researcher at Yale School of Medicine
in New Haven, Connecticut, who wasn’t involved in the study.
Still, curious toddlers are going to be at risk, Baum added by
“Try as you might to teach toddlers not to
explore/touch/taste/swallow objects, they will do so,” Baum said.
Child-resistant packaging, common with human medicines, isn’t a
given with animal drugs, noted Dr. Kyran Quinlan, a researcher at
Rush University Children's Hospital in Chicago who wasn’t involved
in the study.
“Families have to be particularly vigilant to protect their children
from unintended ingestion when pills and medicines meant for their
pet are brought into the house,” Quinlan, chair of the American
Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury Violence and Poison
Prevention, added by email.
“Kids will find them, and because they are naturally curious and
explore everything, they will try to ingest them,” Quinlan said.
“The safest thing would be to keep these animal pharmaceuticals
locked up and out of reach when there are young children in the
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2kegaEU Pediatrics, online February 6, 2017.
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