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Childproof Caps – Are They Actually Smarter than Kids?

Image by Tom Varco

Image by Tom Varco

Recent studies have shown that although there seems to be a “childproof” cap that has revolutionized medication safety, children have still developed the ability to outsmart it.

According to this study, more than 34,000 children in the United States are hospitalized due to the ingestion of prescription drugs found around their home. Twelve drugs were seen as suspect, including oxycodone, bupropion, and clonazepam, but most commonly opioids and benzodiazepines, or anti-anxiety pills, which accounted for 45% of the reported hospitalizations.

The study focused on the admittances to 63 different hospitals from 2007 to 2011, and the rate of the amount of children admitted for unsupervised ingestion of prescription drugs. Of these thousands of children under the age of 6, three quarters of them were reported to be between the ages of 1 and 2.

While much of this issue is caused by parents who do not properly secure or put the medications away, researchers are looking for future ways to further protect children from the ability to open the bottles. This includes flow restrictions on the amount of liquid medication intake, as well as unit-dose packaging within the bottles of solid prescription drugs.

This article is interesting because often times we hear about and think of overdosing in a way that highlights the intention of adults, but never the unintentional suffering of children. However, its important to see the dangers of serious drugs on young children, and necessary to make a change! Will society be able to monitor a child’s intake at times when their caretakers are not?

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  1. nicheloss

    It’s so interesting how even with all the frightening overdose statics, packaging companies haven’t really changed their “childproofing” methods. Looking at this PDF guide:
    over the counter meds such as Asprin faced legal issues during the 1970s because many cases of child, and even adult, poisonings were evident. As a result, the Poison Prevention Packaging Act was passed and had heavier restraints on package safety standards. I agree that there needs to be some sort of redefining of the packaging standards because society needs to monitor the safety of the citizens.

  2. camouflage

    This article is super thought provoking– I have never thought about the “child proof” capabilities of child proof caps. Not only is this an issue of securing medications in locked cabinets, high up places, etc., but also it is an effect of a “popularity” of prescription meds. According to a 2011 NBC News Article, (, from 1998 to 2006, the percentage of adults taking at least one prescription medication during the week rose from 50 to 55%, and the amount taking 5 or more rose from 7 to 11%. I think it would be interesting to seek further research into this area. No matter that- great job!

  3. izotope

    Oh wow gherloniapparatus! What an interesting article! I never realized the risk children were at of overdosing from medication unintentionally. I read at WebMD that children are actually at a higher risk of overdosing during the holidays; stray jackets, purses, and other items provide access to medication for wandering children. Apparently, Poison Control Center gets more than 500,000 phone calls about children under 5 taking medication on their own. This amounts to one phone call every minute, everyday of the week. There clearly needs to be a new solution to child-proofing medication because this is much too common.

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