Teens at Risk for Acetaminophen Overdose

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 6 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say 85 percent of teens may risk overdosing on acetaminophen, or Tylenol, because of ignorance.

Researchers at New York’s University of Rochester Medical Center found 21 percent of the 60 percent of teens studied who reported never hearing of acetaminophen had taken it in the last month.


“Teens are starting to medicate themselves without parental input, so these numbers are incredibly concerning,” study abstract author Laura Shone said in a statement.

“Acetaminophen may be an over-the-counter medication, but that doesn’t mean it is completely safe. In severe cases, misuse of it can cause liver failure.”

Shone and colleagues tested 266 young people between the ages of 16-23 on health literacy using the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine survey for those age 18 and older and REALM-Teen for those younger than 18. Sixty-four percent had adequate health literacy, the researchers said.

Participants were presented with a mock scenario where they might choose to take acetaminophen. Among the 36 percent with limited health literacy, the percentage of potential overdosing rose to 94 percent.

The study was presented at the annual Pediatric Academic Society meeting in Vancouver.

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