How Our Prescription Drug Obsession Is Killing Our Kids

As prescription sales in the U.S. continue to skyrocket, so does the rate of child deaths by poisoning.  According to the latest Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood poisoning deaths increased 80 percent between 2000 and 2009, and prescription drugs accounted for 57 percent of the increase.

The only other category of accidental childhood deaths to increase was suffocation, which rose 30 percent in the same time frame. Deaths from motor vehicle accidents,  fires and drowning all decreased.

Overall, the U.S. has the third highest rate of child deaths by injury among all high-income countries, behind only New Zealand and Mexico.  The U.S. rate is four times higher than that of Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK – the countries with the lowest rates.

These statistics parallel those of prescription drug overdoses across all age groups.  According to the CDC, prescription painkiller overdoses killed nearly 15,000 people in the U.S. in 2008, more than three times the number killed by the same drugs in 1999.  That stands to reason, since the quantity of prescription painkillers sold by Big Pharma to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices was four times larger in 2010 than in 1999.

Add to those statistics the fact that anti-depressant use has exploded by over 400% in the U.S. since the first generation of anti-depressants went on the market in the late 1980s.  The CDC estimates that one in 10 adults in the U.S.  is taking an anti-depressant.

What this all means is that the average U.S. household has more prescription drugs in the house than ever before, and children are the unintentional casualties.

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