After Middletown kids test positive for meth, officials warn of access to drugs

Every day, more than 300 children in the U.S. are treated in emergency departments, and two die as a result of being poisoned, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The causes include dangerous chemicals, prescribed medications and illegal drugs.

Dr. Mark Gebhart, physician and assistant medical director of Atrium Medical Center’s Level III Emergency Trauma Center, said medications should never be shared, not even among family members. Once the medications have expired, they should be properly disposed. He said most physician offices and local police departments will accept expired medications.

RELATED: Middletown mother in jail after two children test positive for meth

If someone believes a child may have ingested medications, they should look for warning signs, including a change of skin color, lethargic activity or unusual behavior, he said. If those signs are present, someone should call 911 immediately, Gebhart said.

Recently in Middletown, a mother and her boyfriend were charged with two counts of child endangering after a 3-year-old and 16-month-old in their care ingested methamphetamine after drinking out of a cup that contained the substance, according to Middletown police. The kids’ grandmother and mother transported the children to Atrium Medical Center after they kids acted “very strange” earlier in the day.

The 3-year-old was running around the house and talking incessantly, and the 16-month-old was continually crying and moving around, the report said.

Gebhart said drugs, prescribed and illegal, will impact a 30-pound child differently than a 250-pound adult. Children can lose consciousness and become incoherent quickly if they come on contact with illegal drugs such as heroin, he warned.

“Dangerous situation” is how Gebhart described that scenario.

Drugs are prescribed based on a person’s age and body weight, said Jackie Phillips, Middletown’s health director. Children who ingest drugs improperly are at a high risk for medical emergencies, she said.

“It’s a scary thing,” Phillips said.

Phillips said parents should occasionally inventory their medications and store them in a locked cabinet and away from curious children.

If a parent believes a child has swallowed pills, they should immediately “check the surroundings,” looking for evidence. Typically, Phillips said, pills will be still be near the child.

Key prevention tips

• Lock them up and away.

• Keep medicines and toxic products, such as cleaning solutions and detergent pods, in their original packaging where children can't see or get them.

Know the number

• Put the nationwide poison control center phone number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every telephone in your home and program it into your cell phone. Call the poison control center if you think a child has been poisoned but they are awake and alert; they can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and your child has collapsed or is not breathing.

Read the label

• Follow label directions carefully and read all warnings when giving medicines to children.

• Don't keep it if you don't need it.

• Safely dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs and over the counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements. To dispose of medicines, mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter and throw them away.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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