CDC: adverse drug events prevalent in children

March 31, 2008

Adverse drug events were the third leading cause of nonfatal injuries among infants, and the sixth leading cause of nonfatal injuries, among children ages 1 to 4 that led to emergency department visits from 2004 to 2005.

Adverse drug events were the third leading cause of nonfatal injuries among infants, and the sixth leading cause of nonfatal injuries, among children ages 1 to 4 that led to emergency department visits from 2004 to 2005, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found.

Writing in the March Journal of Pediatrics, Daniel Budnitz, MD, and colleagues studied national surveillance data from 63 US hospitals. They estimated that during the two-year period, 158,520 patients ages 18 and younger visited emergency departments for adverse reactions to prescription and non-prescription medications, vaccines, vitamins, dietary supplements, and complementary and alternative therapies.

While these adverse drug events did not lead to any deaths, and nearly 89% of children were treated and released, children ages 1 to 4 were nearly 10 times more likely than children of other ages to be hospitalized for adverse drug events. In addition, children younger than 5 were more than four times more likely to have an adverse drug event than children 5 and older.

Nearly 45% of adverse drug events were unintentional overdoses. Most of these events involved pain relief and respiratory medications.