Adverse drug events more common in kids than thought

Smelly medicineCould your children be getting sick from the medications doctors are prescribing them? An 11-year national study conducted by Children’s Hospital Boston, published this month in Pediatrics, shows that side effects or accidental overdoses of medications are more common than you might think. These adverse drug reactions are causing more than half a million doctor’s visits per year, especially in children age 4 and younger.

The study suggests that health care workers need to be aware of the potential adverse effects and be able to provide parents with the proper guidance in case their child has a negative side effect or an accidental overdose, especially if a child is taking a medication for the first time.

“We found that there are as many as 13 outpatient visits for adverse drug events per 1,000 children, indicating that they are a common complication of pediatric care,” says Florence Bourgeois, MD, MPH, of Children’s Division of Emergency Medicine.

Antimicrobials (such as penicillin) were the most frequently implicated drugs, accounting for 27.5 percent of visits overall, and as many as 40 percent of visits among children 0 to 4 years old. They were followed by neurologic/psychotropic medications (6.5 percent) and hormones (6 percent).