Toddler Poisoned by Prescriptions

Prescription bottles not child-proof.

ByABC News
December 17, 2010, 1:48 PM

Dec. 20, 2010— -- Homecomings are moments most military families spend whole deployments anticipating. But every homecoming day, Air Force Capt. Kevin Lombardo feels something missing.

"Today coming back home after six months, this is the third time I have come back since Chloe has died," Lombardo said, fighting back tears.

Five years ago, Lombardo's three-year old twins, Chloe and Kevin Jr., climbed onto a kitchen counter, reached into a high cabinet, and swallowed pills contained within a child-resistant prescription bottle.

"It happened so fast," said mother Billie Lombardo.

Like many parents, the Lombardos thought the prescription bottles were too difficult for their children to open. But containers that claim to be child-resistant don't necessarily mean it's child-proof.

In fact, children under age 5 make up most of the 100,000 Americans treated in the emergency room after accidently swallowing medications, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

And about 90 percent of child poisonings happen at home, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The poison can turn out to be any common household product children can get their hands on, according to Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, emergency medicine pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"Children are curious by nature," said Osterhoudt. "The most common things are things they find in the home -- cosmetics, cleaning substances, but also our medicines and pharmaceuticals in the house."

And even though some parents may be vigilant about their own medications, grandparents and other holiday visitors may not be as careful.

"There have been some studies that suggest that as many as 10 to 20 percent of children's exposures to medicines may actually be exposures to their grandparents' medicines," said Osterhoudt, who called this occurrence the "granny effect."

Throw away unnecessary medications.

Don't take your medication in front of your children.

If your kids do take some medication, immediately call poison control: 1-800-222-1222.

Get more tips for keeping your children safe on Dr. Besser's Twitter feed: @DrRichardBesser.