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Poisoning in young children
  1. Mark Anderson
  1. National Poisons Information Service (Newcastle upon Tyne), Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Great North Children's Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mark Anderson, National Poisons Information Service, Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Great North Children's Hospital, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK; mark.anderson7{at}nuth.nhs.uk

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Child-resistant packaging for medicines is undoubtedly one of the great successes of the late twentieth century child public health policy. In 1967, the original ‘Palm N Turn’ child-resistant closure reduced the incidence of non-intentional poisoning in children by over 75% in a small population trial in Ontario, Canada.1 As a result, legislation or standards were introduced for pharmaceutical child-resistant packaging, initially in the USA in 1970, with the UK and northern Europe following suit over the next 15 years. The effects have been dramatic. In England and Wales, unintentional poisoning deaths in children aged under 10 years fell from 151 per 100 000 in 1968 to 23 per 100 000 in 2000,2 the reduction widely accepted to be due, in the main, to the introduction of child-resistant packaging. The effect is not restricted to a reduction in mortality. Epidemiological studies in the 1970s in Newcastle upon Tyne and South Glamorgan demonstrated a highly significant reduction in admissions to hospital due to aspirin ingestion for young children following the introduction of legislation that all children's aspirin preparations should be presented in child-resistant containers.3 ,4

Despite these advances, accidental poisoning by medications remains a significant problem in young children. The most recent report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS)5 highlights that, …

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