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 By T. Christian Miller and Jeff Gerth, ProPublica 

Dr. Daniel Budnitz, at his office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. Budnitz has campaigned to have flow restrictors -- safety plastic devices fitted into the necks of medicine bottles to slow the release of fluid -- added to all liquid medicines, but so far he’s had limited success. Photo: Bryan Meltz for ProPublica

Dr. Daniel Budnitz, at his office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga. Budnitz has campaigned to have flow restrictors — safety plastic devices fitted into the necks of medicine bottles to slow the release of fluid — added to all liquid medicines, but so far he’s had limited success. Photo: Bryan Meltz for ProPublica

This story was produced in collaboration with Consumer Reports.

Starting in 2007, Dr. Daniel Budnitz, a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Medication Safety Program, began tracking an obscure but unsettling statistic about children’s health.

Each year, more and more kids were being rushed to emergency rooms after swallowing potentially toxic doses of medication. By 2011, federal estimates put the figure at about 74,000, eclipsing the number of kids under 6 sent to ERs from car crashes.