Study Finds Children Overmedicated on Purpose

Filed under: In The News


It sounds like an episode from CSI. In fact, if I recall correctly, it was an episode of CSI. A child meets an untimely end due to being overmedicated with cough syrup. Why? The parents wanted her to calm down or be quiet or some such thing. It sounds like it's impossible, but it happens, and, according to doctors, more often than we'd like to believe. Kids are being overmedicated in order to calm them down. They overdose and are then rushed to the emergency room. Some meet a tragic end. Of the 189 minor deaths reported in the Annals of Emergency Medicine due to overmedication, an alarming number were thought to be intentional. Seventy-nine children were administered non-prescription medication; of those, 26 were determined to have been given on purpose.

According to one expert, Dr. Richard Dart, of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, there is a specific type of parent who does such a thing. Generally, they tend to be of lower-income and there tends to be a history of child abuse or violence in the home. It was also noted, however, that accidents do occur, and that daycare providers have been known to give the medicine in order to calm down their charges as well. It was also noted that in 19 cases the adult was trying to help the child and didn't mean to cause an overdose.

This is the kind of thing that terrifies me to no end. I certainly would never, under any circumstances, give my children medicine in order to get them to be quiet or behave, and I am terrified to give them medicine in the first place for fear of overdosing. Heck, I try not to take anything for myself if I can at all help it--I'm not a big fan of medicating at all, really. BUT, and it is a big "but," it's easy to see how someone who is actually trying to help a child could accidentally administer an overdose without realizing it. The medicine doesn't seem to be working so the parent gives more, and more, until they end up in the ER. It's really very scary. Bans on over-the-counter meds being given to kids under 12 are being considered by the FDA.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.