CDC aims to stop medication overdoses by children

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Educational Foundation have launched the "Up and Away and Out of Sight" campaign to stop medication overdoses in young children.

WASHINGTON: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association Educational Foundation have launched the “Up and Away and Out of Sight” campaign to stop medication overdoses in young children.

The groups are targeting parents, caregivers, or anyone who has contact with children age five and under in a residential environment. It is reminding consumers to store medicines safely, urging them to relock safety caps on medicine bottles and explain what medicine is and why it should be administered by an adult.

The program includes a website, multimedia content, and downloadable materials for parents and caregivers. It also features social media elements, doctor's office posters, a tip sheet, and coloring pages for children. The groups are also pitching print media about the effort.

More than 60,000 young children end up in emergency rooms every year after getting into medicine while their parents or caregivers are not looking. In recent years, the number of accidental overdoses by children increased by 20%, the agencies said.

The campaign has been in the works for two years. The CDC and its partners sought to make the effort as data-driven as possible, and held several focus groups to shape the initiative's content. The CDC handled the effort through its in-house communications staff.

“The message that came out of those groups was the importance of talking to children about medication safety, and not calling medicine ‘candy,'” said Dan Budnitz, director of CDC's medication safety program.

The focus groups also showed that a large number of parents across educational backgrounds become confused about dosage recommendations when giving a child medication.

This isn't the first education campaign the federal government has conducted on this issue. An early predecessor of Up and Away and Out of Sight was the Mr. Yuk campaign that ran in the 1970s. Companies introduced child-resistant packaging that same decade. The combined efforts substantially decreased the number of accidental poisonings, although that number has risen in recent years, according to the agencies.

“Medicines now outnumber household products as the leading cause of children's poison-related emergency room visits,” Budnitz said. “It is time for a refreshed campaign designed for busy parents of the 21st Century.”

The participating agencies declined to disclose the campaign's budget. Funding for the campaign comes from contributions to CHPA's Educational Foundation and in kind contributions from outside organizations that help with PSA placement.

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