Childhood Poisoning: Safeguarding Young Children from Addictive Substances

As a result of America’s current addiction epidemic, babies and pre-school age children are being accidentally exposed at unacceptably high rates to toxic, addictive substances including nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, prescription drugs, marijuana and illicit drugs. Fortunately, there are steps parents, health care professionals, policymakers, industry and researchers can take to prevent such occurrences and protect children from the potentially life-threatening effects of these substances.

Key Takeaways

In 2016 alone, there were more than 30,500 reports to poison control centers of young children exposed to addictive substances. The number of children aged five and younger who have been exposed to the toxic effects of nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, marijuana, certain opioids and methamphetamine have increased over the past decade, as have the number of children who experience serious consequences from these events. Additional key findings include the following:


For parents:

For health care professionals:

Research Methods

This report summarizes the available research on the nature, extent, and consequences of young children’s exposure to a range of addictive substances based on data collected by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), as well as other research reports and data sources. It explains why and how such exposures occur, and what the barriers are to preventing them. Finally, it provides a comprehensive approach to addressing the problem of childhood exposures and poisonings.

Additional resources

The following PDFs help distill the report’s learnings into actionable advice and recommendations.