Child Abuse: Malicious Use of Medications

DENVER, July 22 (UPI) — A U.S. researcher suggests abusive use of drugs on children for punishment, amusement or a break in childcare responsibilities is a form of child abuse.

Dr. Shan Yin of the University of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Poison Drug Center at Denver Health reviewed cases of pharmaceutical abuse reported to the National Poison Data System from 2000 to 2008.


Of the more than 1,400 cases involved, nearly 14 percent resulted in moderate to major consequences, including death, Yin finds. An average of 160 cases, including two deaths, were reported each year, the study says.

Nearly one-half of the abused children were exposed to at least one sedative.

“The malicious administration of pharmaceuticals should be considered an important form of child abuse,” Yin says in a statement.

He cautions parents that the “non-therapeutic administration of pharmaceuticals to children can result in serious outcomes, including death.”

U.S. child abuse affects nearly 1 million children a year. The four major categories of child abuse are neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse but malicious use of pharmaceuticals does not fit neatly into any category, Yin says.

The findings are published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

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