Researchers at the annual American Academy of Pediatrics conference learned that nearly 30% of homes with young children have acetaminophen products stored unsafely. And nearly all homes contained at least one expired medication. Needless to say, safety regarding drugs (whether prescription or not) is very important within households. And if children are in your house or visit at all, it’s imperative that safety comes first.
Children under age six have the highest rate of unintentional poisoning. An incredible fact is that acetaminophen (a common painkiller in almost every house) is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States. The new study sought to see if the popular pain medicine was being stored unsafely in American homes — and to check expiration dates.
They took a sample of 24 families with children aged two to six. They investigated where and how their medications were stored, if these medications contained acetaminophen, and whether they were expired. Safe storage was defined as drugs placed higher than five feet, or locked in a cabinet if below that level.
Acetaminophen was found in 23 of the 24 homes, and every single home had at least one expired medication. A total of 22% percent (174 of 799) of all medications and 30% (30 of 99) of acetaminophen-containing medications were deemed to be stored unsafely.
While it seems a trivial drug based on it being everywhere, acetaminophen is nevertheless highly toxic when taken above therapeutic levels. The hazards of consuming expired medications are unknown.
Improper storage of these products is a concern when young children are around, because the rate of unintentional poisonings in this population is high.
It’s best if we all take a peek in our medicine cabinets and make the necessary changes. This isn’t about fear; it’s about common sense.