U.S. Poison Control Center Calls for Infants 0-6 Months Old

This article concerned a retrospective study on poison control center calls about infants aged 0 to 6 months.  The study used data from the National Poison Data System that combines all the electronic records of all the United States Poison Control Centers.  The study was conducted to explore the reason behind the majority of poison center calls made for infants in the first six months of their lives.  Infants at that stage of development have very little mobility, reducing the possibility of poisoning by exploration, a common cause for poisoning of infants and toddlers older than six months of age.  This rationale would indicate that poisoning caused by a mistake of a caregiver is more common in younger infants than it is in infants and toddlers older than six months of age.  Many programs for young parents that address the issue of poisoning focus on the need to keep dangerous substances out of reach of children, but the instances of caregiver mistakes in poisoning events of infants 0-6 months old would not be prevented by keeping medicines inaccessible to the infants.  Also, most of these programs do not begin poison education before children reach six months of age anyways.  The results of the study presented a couple key takeaways.  One of the results was that 97.5% of poisoning events for this age group originated in people’s homes, whereas only 85.2% of the phone calls made about these events originated in people’s homes, with others originating from health care facilities, meaning some caregivers travelled to a health care facility before contacting a Poison Control Center.  Additionally, the percentage of calls made for unintentional poisonings by the caregiver for this early infant age range was a large proportion of the total poisonings for this age range, of which there were numerous recorded over the 10-year (2004-2013) period of the study.

I believe that early education of parents about the resource of Poison Control Centers and about how to properly use medications in infants would prevent many of the poisoning events that occur in the age group of infants 0-6 months old.  The study also concluded that increased education concerning PCC’s and proper infant medical care to parents before they leave the nursery at the hospital would eradicate many of the poisoning occurrences in this age group.  What do you think the best approach to reducing poisoning of infants aged 0-6 months in the United States is?

Kang AM, Brooks DE. US Poison Control Center Calls for Infants 6 Months of Age and Younger. Pediatrics. 2016;137:1-7.

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3 thoughts on “U.S. Poison Control Center Calls for Infants 0-6 Months Old”

  1. Infants, just like older adults, have much different drug pharmacokinetics. In order decrease poisoning is making sure that all health care professionals go through more training for infants. I also believe that there should be more resources for parents, even for a simple question. I do not know if there is a help line that health care professionals and parents can call whenever they have a question about dosing or safety of certain substances. If there is not, I believe that this could be very helpful. It is directly related to us as future pharmacists because this could be a job for a pharmacist. Having the knowledge of medications, and especially if the pharmacist is trained in pediatrics, we could be a great resource. I think that parents would utilize this resource because most new parents feel as though they need help, and having a health care professional so easily accessible would be comforting.

  2. I think that this is a really important issue and should definitely be addressed. Parents should be instructed on medication and other potential poison safety in order to protect themselves and their infants. The Poison Control Center is an excellent resource and can provide information to help parents. I agree that pharmacists can increase their role in this issue by education parents on proper dosing for infants and children. Maybe hosting community events would be helpful or having easy to read charts in the OTC section of the pharmacy that explain the information in a better way than on the bottle. The best way to approach this issue is to reduce the amount of incidents by increasing education in parents.

  3. These were some shocking statistics. I didn’t realize how common these poisonings were in infants less than six months of age. At the same time, that just goes to show how much room there is for educating the public on this issue. It saddens me to see that parents try to take their infant to see a doctor rather than utilizing the poison control help line. Perhaps educating the parents when they take their newborn home on the high risk for toxic substance misuse would help. Also, they should be given the poison control help line phone number at this time as well. I believe by educating them on these statistics they would be more likely to know what to do if put in a similar situation. I also believe we, as future pharmacists, have the responsibility to distribute this information as well. For example, in a community setting, if a patient comes in holding their infant to pick up a prescription, remind them of ways to keep the medication out of reach and a safe distance from the infant.

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