What happens when a group of pre-kindergartners attempts to open medicine bottles with child-resistant caps? Teresa Woodard from Fox2News (KTVI, Channel 2) reports on the surprising results.
UNIVERSITY CITY, MO (KTVI- FOX2now.com) - A Fox Files investigation uncovers a warning every parent needs to hear. With the help of the Missouri Regional Poison Control Center, an experiment finds proof there is no such thing as a "child proof" pill bottle. The young fingers worked fast inside Ms. Schneider's pre-kindergarten class at Christ the King school in University City. One bottle went from sealed to unsealed in four seconds. And it was a four year old child's hands that did it.
"Uh, I got it," says four and a half year old William as he pried open a similar bottle in five seconds. And it took five and a half year old Peter just over five seconds to unscrew the cap of an over the counter cold and flu remedy.
"Uh oh, they got in too quickly," was Peggy Kinamore's first reaction. Kinamore is the Public Education Coordinator for the Missouri Regional Poison Control Center. She helped facilitate the experiment.
William, after one minute 45 seconds of hammering and twisting, was able to open an empty bottle of Histinex HC. HC means hydrocodone, says Kinamore.
"So it was a narcotic," she says. "That's very dangerous." And he got into it twice.
Just days ago, Kinamore took a call from a worried mom on the poison control hotline, whose two year old son got into a bottle of children's Benadryl.
"My son figured out how to open child proof bottles," says the mom on the phone call. "Nothing is child proof," corrects Kinamore.
One child mastering the art of opening a bottle can teach an entire class or family to open it too, says Kinamore.
"When there's other children in the house, they try to teach them what they know," she says.
The Missouri Regional Poison Control Center provided seven empty bottles, and with their parents' approval, Ms. Schneider's students had at them. They all banged the bottles on tables. Some tried to read the instructions, when they don't even know how to read yet. Some of them even grunted as they worked to unscrew or pop open the tops.
But some didn't have to work at all. William opened bottles three times.
"There are some children that just perservered," says Kinamore. "They continued to try different ways."
The students who opened the bottles were between the ages of three and a half and five and a half. Four of the seven bottles we tested. All of the bottles should have been child-resistant. But that does not mean child proof.
"Child proof would mean it's child proof. No one could ever get into it. None of these caps are child proof," says Kinamore. "Child resistant means that it's going to slow them down."
"80 percent of children under five years old, cannot get into that product for ten minutes," she explains.
Not in our test.
Federal law requires pharmacists to dispense all drugs in child resistant packaging, but does not mandate narcotics come in any different kind of package than non-narcotics.
"There's no law saying narcotics have to go in a super locked container," explains Cardinal Glennon Pharmacist Jenniver Levin. "There is no such thing."
The bottle that used to have hydrocodone in it opened twice.
"And that's very dangerous," says Kinamore, "because just a couple of mouthfuls of that can really harm a child. It can slow down their breathing, stop their breathing. And if they were to call us at the Poison Center we'd be sending that child to the hospital."
"Their bodies are so much smaller than ours, if it's a medication for an adult, they could be in serious trouble," says Levin.
Katashia Partee, as Assistant Professor at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy says she teaches her students to educate parents once they are working in pharmacy environments.
"Even the common medications, you think about iron, things we take every day, like a multivitamin, with the kids a small amount could actually be fatal to them," says Partee.
The Poison Control Center taught a lesson at Christ the King well in advance of our experiment. The kids knew we were asking them to do something they shouldn't do. They know medicine is not candy and it should not be touched unless Mom or Dad gives it to them, but they also know how Mom or Dad does that.
"All we had to do was shake it, press down and turn," explained four year old Kyra when asked if she knew how to open a cough syrup bottle.
"I always tell my students education is the key, make sure you tell the parents who come in to make sure they do not rely on child safety caps to protect their kids," says Partee.
"The best advice is, no matter what the medication is to just get used to putting it out of their reach where they cannot get to it," says Levin. "The best thing is a locked cabinet if you have it. If you don't, the highest possible cabinet that there is."
The Missouri Regional Poison Control Center in St. Louis took 164 thousand calls last year, and 60 percent of the calls were for children under six years old. The tollfree, nationwide number is 1-800-222-1222.
The video and story can both be found at: http://www.fox2now.com/ktvi-fox-files-child-proof-bottles-050509,0,5302796.story