Science and Tech


Report finds 37% 'spike' in child poisoning deaths

Federal officials are highlighting a report during National Poison Prevention Week that showed an increase in child poisoning deaths.
Interior of a children's hospital.
Posted at 3:43 PM, Mar 22, 2023

A report indicated that there was a 37% increase in unintentional pediatric poisoning deaths in 2021 as compared to 2020, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said. 

The CPSC highlighted the report for National Poison Prevention Week. 

The report noted that 59 children under age 5 died from using prescribed or illicit drugs, the most since 1991.

Thirty-three of the deaths were tied to narcotics and psychodysleptics. Sixteen deaths were tied to other types of drugs. Antiepileptic, sedative, and hypnotic substances accounted for nine fatalities, the CPSC said.

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The recent spike comes after a dramatic decrease in these types of deaths in the '70s and '80s. In 1972, there were 216 accidental poisoning deaths among children under age 5. By 1982, that number had dropped to 67. 

“Sadly, this report shows the work that still needs to be done to protect children,” said Alexander Hoehn-Saric, Chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Nearly eight out of 10 poisonings occurred in the home. Please take the time to store cleaning supplies, laundry packets, button batteries, and drugs out of children’s reach or in locked cabinets.  If you see it lying around, a child can grab and swallow it.” 

The CPSC issued recommendations on its website on how to prevent accidental poisonings.