Child poisonings on the rise, grandparents involved - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Child poisonings on the rise, grandparents involved

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Child safety advocates have a message for parents and the grandparents who care for small children: be careful with your medications.

The Carolinas Poison Center reports receiving more than 2200 calls from grandparents statewide about young children being accidentally poisoned by their grandparent's medication. It's a growing problem.

Toddlers can grab a pill easily off a counter, from a pillbox, out of a visiting grandparent's luggage or even a purse. They are curious and will get into everything.

Nurse Beth Rickenbaugh knows from experience. Rickenbaugh is a specialist who answers calls for the poison control hotline. She knows the sound of a frantic grandparent on the other end of the line.

"They don't realize, that a two-year-old,  if they see something, they'll figure out how to get there," she said.

Poison control specialists will help the caregiver determine whether monitoring the child for a reaction after swallowing a pill is enough, or more urgent medical is needed. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

Sometimes urgent cases make their way to Dr. Maneesha Agarwal at the pediatric emergency department at Carolinas Medical Center. She says they treat medication poisoning patients on a weekly basis.

"Kids are explorers," said Dr. Agarwal. "It's what they do. So it's our job, as adults, to be responsible and put medicines out of harms way," she said.

Grandparent Laura Jones changed her habits long ago, and she understands how accidents happen.

"You've raised your children, so you don't think too much about having another little one in the house until something happens," she said. "At that point you realize, ok, I need to change my habits," said Jones.

Safety experts recommend storing medicines high and out of sight from children. Also, realize that "baby-proof" bottles are not perfect.

Call the Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222

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