Parents' motives range from punishment or sedation to amusement, research suggests.
THURSDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- The malicious use of alcohol and medicines is an under-recognized form of child abuse, according to a new report.
The U.S. study reviewed cases of pharmaceutical-related child abuse reported to the National Poison Data System between 2000 and 2008. The cases included the use of alcohol, painkillers, cough and cold medicines, sedatives, sleeping pills and antipsychotic medicines.
The findings are scheduled to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.
The review included over 1,400 cases, and nearly 14 percent led to moderate or major consequences for children, including death. In about half of the cases, children were given at least one sedative. On average, 160 cases of pharmaceutical abuse, including two deaths, were reported each year.
Motives for this type of child abuse included punishment, amusement, or a desire for a break from childcare responsibilities, the researcher pointed out in a news release from the journal's publisher.
The findings highlight a serious problem, according to study author Dr. Shan Yin, of the University of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center at Denver Health.
"The malicious administration of pharmaceuticals should be considered an important form of child abuse," Yin stated in the news release.
Pediatricians and emergency medical personnel should be on alert for this type of child abuse, and comprehensive drug screening should be used for children who are suspected victims of abuse, Yin added.