The malicious use of alcohol and medicines is an under-recognised form of child abuse, according to a new report.
The US study reviewed cases of pharmaceutical-related child abuse reported to the National Poison Data System between 2000 and 2008. The cases included the use of alcohol, painkillers, cough and cold medicines, sedatives, sleeping pills and antipsychotic medicines.
The findings are scheduled to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Paediatrics.
The review included over 1 400 cases, and nearly 14% led to moderate or major consequences for children, including death. In about half of the cases, children were given at least one sedative. On average, 160 cases of pharmaceutical abuse, including two deaths, were reported each year.
Motives for this type of child abuse included punishment, amusement, or a desire for a break from childcare responsibilities, the researcher pointed out. The findings highlight a serious problem, according to study author Dr Shan Yin, of the University of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center at Denver Health.
"The malicious administration of pharmaceuticals should be considered an important form of child abuse," Yin stated in the news release.
Pediatricians and emergency medical personnel should be on alert for this type of child abuse, and comprehensive drug screening should be used for children who are suspected victims of abuse, Yin added. - (July 2010)
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