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Simple Device Could Save Kids from Accidental Poisoning

John Foxx/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Each year, more than 500,000 calls are made to poison control centers after accidental ingestion of medications by young children. Now a new study, published in in the Journal of Pediatrics, suggests a simple flow restrictor at the top of liquid medication bottles may be the key to preventing kids from accidentally poisoning themselves.

Researchers evaluated the efficacy of using these adapters added to bottle necks to limit the release of liquid in protecting children from accidental ingestions. In this randomized trial, 110 kids, aged 3-4 years, participated in two tests.  

In the first test, the children were given an uncapped medication bottle with a flow restrictor. In the other test, they received a traditional bottle without a cap or with an incompletely-closed child-resistant cap. For each test, they were given 10 minutes to remove as much test liquid as possible from the bottles. Within two minutes, 96 percent of bottles without caps and 82 percent of bottles with incompletely-closed caps were emptied.  

However, none of the bottles with flow restrictors were emptied before six minutes, and only 6 percent of children were able to empty the bottles within the 10-minute time period.

Manufacturers voluntarily added flow restrictors to over-the-counter infant acetaminophen in 2011. But there are still several other liquid medications that do not have flow restrictors, and they are not currently required.

Based on their effectiveness, the authors suggest that flow restrictors should be added to other liquid medications, especially those harmful in small doses.

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