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Tweens self-medicating with over-the-counter drugs

REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Research shows that kids at young ages are self-medicating themselves using over-the-counter drugs.

Georgia Poison Center Director Dr. Gaylord Lopez said they get several calls a week about fifth and sixth-graders overdosing on over-the-counter medication.

"It's not unusual for them to be taking it for pain or even for fever reduction," Lopez said. "You've got to remember, at this age group, parents are trusting kids to take these medications, and of course, that's a no-no."

Each year, as many as 58,000 teens in the United States land in the emergency room after self-medicating with common drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen that can be toxic at high doses. That's why the American Association of Poison Control Centers is teaming up with Scholastic to teach parents about the risks.

"These kinds of products in even just doses of three or four pills can be problematic, especially if they don't know, if they're not very heavy, or they might even have medical problems already that may interfere with the way the drug works," Lopez said.

Lopez says parents need to take charge of not just prescription, but all medication, storing it out of sight and reading the dosing instructions carefully.

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