Opioid poisonings sending more kids to hospitals: survey

Opioid poisonings sending more kids to hospitals: survey

Pointing to the dire need for more awareness and change, a new survey has revealed that incidents of opioid poisonings among adolescents, children and even toddlers have drastically increased over the past few decades.

According to the Yale School of Medicine survey, more Americans children and teenagers are being poisoned by opioid painkillers prescribed for other members of their families. The number of kids hospitalized to receive treatment for a drug overdose more than doubled between 1997 and 2012.

The researchers were surprised to find that the greatest increase in incidents of opioid poisonings was among 1 to 4-year-old kids. The annual incidence of hospitalizations per 100,000 children aged 1 to 19 years jumped 165 per cent from 1.40 to 3.71.

Deb Beck, the president of the Drug & Alcohol Service Providers Organization of Pennsylvania, said, “This is really, really tragic. It makes the point we have to be doing a much more enhanced job of physician education on the use of these drugs.”

Some cases of opioid overdoses among children were found to be deliberate, while some were accidental, such as a child consumed an opioid painkiller that was prescribed to his/her parent. The researchers also found that more adolescents are now prescribed opioid medication for pain relief.

The researchers reported their findings in JAMA Pediatrics, and called for better efforts, such as more stringent prescribing guidelines and more public education, to prevent the epidemic from growing further.


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