Opioid Poisonings Nearly Doubled Among Children, Study Finds

Posted: Nov 1 2016, 7:49am CDT | by , Updated: Nov 1 2016, 11:44pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 

Opioid Poisonings Nearly Doubled among Children, Study Finds
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More kids are being hospitalized by prescription opioid overdose in 16 years.

The number of children hospitalized from opioid poisoning has doubled over the past decade or so. 

According to recent research, 13,052 children age 1 to 4 year were hospitalized for opioid overdose during 1997 to 2012, reflecting a dramatic rise of 205 percent in children. Among teens aged 15 to 19, the increase was 176 percent. 176 children also died during this study period.

“During the course of 16 years, hospitalizations attributed to opioid poisonings rose nearly 2-fold in the pediatric population.  Hospitalizations increased across all age groups, yet young children and older adolescents were most vulnerable to the risks of opioid exposure.” Researchers from Yale School of Medicine wrote in their report published in Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA).

The cases involved both accidental overdoses and suicide attempts. Sometimes kids have the easy access to the opioids and they took the drug unintentionally while others have ingested the drugs on purpose. The biggest surprise, however, was the surge in opioid poisoning among kids age 1 to 4. In this youngest group, the rate has doubled over time.

“We were surprised to find that the greatest increase over time (was) among the youngest children, those 1 to 4 years in age.” Lead researcher Julie Gaither said.

Opioid overdose is already one of the leading causes of deaths in United States. The trend is driven by excessive or long-term use of opioids for treating chronic pains. However, it was not known how many children and adolescents are being hospitalized each year for opioid poisonings and how hospitalization rates have changed overtime.

To assess the overall incidence of opioid poisoning in children and adolescents, researchers looked at the hospital records of kids admitted to emergency rooms for prescribed opioids overdose like Oxycodone, Percocet and codeine. For the most recent data (2012), researchers selected more than 4000 hospitals across 44 states and reviewed approximately 3.2 million records.Among teens, poisoning due to heroine have also increased significantly over the years.

“To date, numerous initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels have been implemented to combat prescription opioid poisonings and overdose: most of these efforts, however, have focused on modifying physician prescribing practices for those treating adults with chronic pain.

“Our research,however, suggests thatpoisonings byprescription and illicit opioids are likely to remain a persistent and growing problem in the young unless greater attention is directed toward the pediatric community,whomake up nearly one-quarter of the US population.

“A combination of public health interventions (eg, parental education) policy initiatives and consumer product regulations is needed to reduce the pediatric exposure to opioids.” Study concludes.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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