Study of the Day: More Than 1 in 4 Kids Mistake Medicine for Candy

More

Halloween may still be two weeks away but it's never too early to ensure that dangerous pills are out of your children's reach

main Foodpictures shutterstock_83903605.jpg

PROBLEM: Kids are getting poisoned accidentally because some candy and medicine are hard to tell apart. (To get a better sense of the issue, take this test.)

METHODOLOGY: Two enterprising elementary students, Casey Gittelman and Eleanor Bishop, along with two medical professionals obtained a mixture of 20 look-alike candies and medicines from the Drug and Poison Information Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. They randomly selected 30 teachers and 30 kindergarten students, and asked them to point out which items were candies. They also surveyed participants about their age, gender, medicine intake, and how pills are stored in their respective homes. The teachers were also asked about each student's reading ability.

RESULTS: The children successfully distinguished candy from medicine at a rate of 71 percent, while teachers did so at a rate of 78 percent. Students who couldn't read did significantly worse. The most common mistakes across the groups involved M&Ms being mistaken for Coricidin, SweeTARTS for Mylanta and Tums, and Reese's Pieces for Sine-off. About 78 percent of the respondents said medicines in their homes were not locked and out-of-reach.

CONCLUSION: Pills that are circular, shiny, and with no identifiable markings are the most likely to be mistaken for candy. Neither teachers nor students store their medicines properly at home. Children who are unable to read are especially at risk of incorrect ingestion of medicine.

IMPLICATION: Families should be educated about safe storage practices of pills, the authors say in a news release. Medications should also bear distinguishable markings to reduce unintentional ingestions.

SOURCE: The study entitled "Candy or Medicine: Can Children Tell the Difference?" is slated to be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition.

Image: Foodpictures/Shutterstock.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In