Medicine

Child opioid overdoses have almost doubled since 2004

Child opioid overdoses have almost doubled since 2004

An alarming new study shows opioid-related hospitalizations among children have increased dramatically.

"These admissions are entirely preventable", said lead researcher Dr. Jason Kane, of the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital.

Child hospitalizations due to opioid overdoses almost doubled between 2004 and 2015, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

Methadone, an opioid which does not induce the same adverse withdrawal symptoms as forms like heroin and fentanyl, is used to wean opioid addicts off of their drug of choice through so-called methadone maintenance.

The findings, reported online March 5 in the journal Pediatrics, offer the latest look at the USA opioid epidemic.

Opioid use disorder affects an estimate of 2.4 million Americans.

But while the focus is usually on adults, children have become "the second wave of victims", Kane said.

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"The thing that was a bit striking is that in the youngest children, those under six years of age, 20% of the ingestions were of methadone".

Researchers believe numerous overdoses were likely caused by the child taking prescription medications after discovering them at home. The reason why that's important to recognize is that nationwide there's only about 4,100 pediatric ICU beds, which is in contrast to the number of adult ICU beds, which is closer to 78,000.

Dr. Sheryl Ryan is chief of adolescent medicine at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. And findings from the new study, she wrote, "highlight the need for pediatricians to engage in this critical work to combat the ongoing opioid crisis in our country".

Young children accidentally ingest opioids due to curiosity while adolescents and teenagers are more likely to have intentional ingestions, either for recreational purposes or for self-harm. He also hopes more responsible prescribing practices and laws will start to bring the number of child hospitalizations down in the years to come. The CDC has characterized all opioid pain reliever deaths as prescription opioid overdoses.

Parents taking these substances are advised to take preventative measures, such as using a "lockbox" to store the medication.

In the report they published was reported that the children under the age of 6 opioid remains the de facto of drug poisoning. "I think parents often underestimate the power of communicating their values to their kids".


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