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January 29, 2008
Parents, we can't presume that the child-resistant bottles used to package children's medicine are childproof — surprisingly, since I have a dickens of a time getting those push-down-and-turn bottles open and have been reduced to gnawing open a blister pack of kiddie Dramamine. In fact, doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have just reported that about 7,000 children are treated for overdoses of cough and cold medications each year, a whopping 66 percent of whom dose themselves. All of the children studied, two thirds of whom were between ages 2 and 5, survived the misadventure, although about one quarter needed activated charcoal to help neutralize the toxic effects of the drug overdose. The findings were posted in the online version of Pediatrics.
"Any medication left in the hands of a 3-year-old is not safe," warns Melissa Schaefer, a physician in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the CDC and the study's lead author. Especially when the contents inside are sweet and fruit-flavored.
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January 25, 2008
Did your preschooler get a flu shot this season? Almost 40 percent of parents of young children say yes, according to a new poll. That's pretty darned good, considering that the federal government officially started recommending yearly flu shots for children ages 6 months through 2 years starting in 2004, and only added children through age 5 for the 2006-07 flu season. I must confess that I'm not among that noble number, having not quite managed to make the trek to the pediatrician's office with my own 4-year-old in the fall.
The real number's probably not quite as good; we all tend to fib when asked whether we're following health advice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20 percent of eligible children were fully vaccinated for the 2005-06 flu season. (And this week the CDC reported that adults are dismal at keeping up with their own vaccinations, with only 2 percent getting the recommended shots for pertussis and shingles.)