For healthcare professionals only

Research Article

Child-resistant containers: are we kidding ourselves?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 283 doi: (Published 25 July 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;283:271
  1. A D Greig,
  2. P D Ewing,
  3. S B Kenny


    A 20-month-old child was accidentally poisoned after biting through the bottom of a medicine container and ingesting the tablets inside. Consequently a study was carried out to determine the force required to fracture 20 randomly selected 25 and 32 ml polystyrene containers to see whether this exceeded the bite force of a child's jaw. Tests were performed at displacement rates of 0.5 and 10 cm/min. All the containers failed at well below the bite force recorded for children, which is 392 N. All containers must conform to a British Standards test that requires that they withstand a force of only 35 N. Clearly this is not enough to safeguard small children. The use of polystyrene containers should be scrutinised closely, as the case of accidental poisoning reported may not be unique.