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  • 1 October 2018 to 31 March 2020
  • Project No: 436
  • Funding round: FR17

Accidental poisonings in children cause major illness, worry, sometimes even death and place significant demands on NHS resources. Yet they can usually be avoided. We know that poisonings are more common in poorer households but that providing things like cupboard locks and advising families about how to store medicines safely improves safety behaviours. However, child poverty has risen over the last 8 years but child health services which promote home safety (health visitors, school nurses, safety equipment schemes) have been cut. We do not know if this has affected childhood poisonings, especially among poorer families at higher risk.

There are also no up-to-date figures describing which medicines or other substances are involved in childhood poisonings. In particular, we do not know if the medicines that children accidentally swallow were prescribed to someone living in the household by a doctor or were bought over-the-counter.

We want to provide up-to-date answers to these questions. We will use information from English GP records, hospital admissions and deaths to explore which medicines or other substances have been involved in poisonings in 0-9 year olds over the last 20 years. We will explore medicines prescribed to children and their family members to see if there is a link between medicines given on prescription and those poisoning children. We will also report how often poisonings have happened in poorer or richer households and how this has changed over the last 20 years to see if this has been impacted by austerity measures.

The results will help prescribers to know when and how much medication to prescribe as well as what safety advice to give to families of young children. The results will also help those who plan services that promote home safety to understand the impact of cuts to services and make decisions around commissioning priorities.  

Amount awarded: £11 997

Projects by themes

We have grouped projects under the five SPCR themes in this document

Evidence synthesis working group

The collaboration will be conducting 18 high impact systematic reviews, under four workstreams.