They’re doting babysitters and support for frazzled parents, but grandparents may be putting their grandchildren’s lives at risk

Who could be better than a grandparent to look after your child?

When grandparents and grandkids spend time together, there are usually happy kids, revitalised older adults and relieved parents.

However, a recent US poll suggests many grandparents could do more to reduce the risk of their medications harming their grandchild.

More than 80% of the grandparents polled say they keep their medication in the same place as usual when their grandchildren visit their house, and 72% keep them in their purse or bag when they go to visit their grandchildren.

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These practices may put children at risk of accidental poisoning if they get into their grandparent’s medications, say the University of Michigan researchers involved in the poll.

Nearly 40% of children treated in emergency departments for medication-related poisoning had taken their grandparents’ medicines – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For older grandchildren, the easy access may lead to misuse of certain medicines that hold the potential for abuse – for instance pain medication and sedatives.

Medical drug safety around children

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40% of children treated in emergency departments for medication-related poisoning took their grandparents’ medicines.

“Prescription medicines and even over-the-counter medicines and supplements can harm children and teens who find them in grandma’s purse or on grandpa’s kitchen table,” says Preeti Malani, M.D., the poll’s director. “Meanwhile, opioid painkillers and sleep medicines can be diverted for recreational use by teens. No matter how old your grandchildren are, you need to think about medication safety.

“We know that grandparents love spending time with their grandkids. A few simple steps can keep those little ones safe when you’re together,” says Alison Bryant, Ph.D., senior vice president of research for AARP.

Don’t leave medications in your purse or on a kitchen counter – it’s best to keep them locked up. It’s also a good idea to go through your medications every few months and safely discard any that are expired or no longer needed.

What causes a high number of children to land up in the ER?

Containers matter

Childproof prescription drug containers were developed to protect children from accidentally swallowing the medicine, but these ‘childproof’ containers can even be hard for some adults to open.

29% of the older adults polled said they transferred their prescription medicines to other types of containers.

If you put your pills into day-of-the-week pill sorters so you can remember whether you took your medicine each day, that’s great – but keep that sorter out of the reach of little ones,” says Malani.

“Make sure you explain to them, and their parents or older siblings, that it’s important to stay away from your medicines – that those pills are for you and you alone.”

Source: Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan via

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