Study: More toddlers and preschoolers are overdosing on opioids

Study: More toddlers and preschoolers are overdosing on opioids

In those 19 and younger, overdoses from opioid painkillers rose 165%, according to the study.

In recent years, rates of toddlers and preschoolers hospitalized for opioid overdoses more than doubled, according to a new study.

In fact, overdoses rose more than 100% over a 16-year period among all children, the study published in JAMA Pediatrics Oct. 31 showed.

Researchers from Yale School of Medicine analyzed national data from the Kids’ Inpatient Database on children admitted to U.S. hospitals for opioid poisoning. The study focused on patients ages 1 to 19 between 1997 to 2012. More than 13,000 records.

What's to blame? Possibly the increase of prescribed pain killers, including OxyContin and Vicodin. Research from 1999 to 2010 show retail sales of prescription opioids quadrupled.

"Even in children younger than 6 years, opioids, followed closely by benzodiazepines, now account for most of the drug poisonings in this age group; in nearly all these poisonings, the child was exposed to a prescription intended for an adult in the household," the study states.

Prescription opioids accounted for most poisonings in the Yale study, but heroin poisonings also increased 161%. In August, more than 225 heroin overdoses occured in four counties in four states within one week. The batch of heroin was most-likely supercharged with another substance, but still drew attention to the popularity of the drug.

“The take-home message is that prescription opioid poisonings are likely to remain a growing problem among children unless greater attention is directed toward the pediatric community,” study author Julie Gaither said in a release.



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