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American kids become accidental victims of opioid drugs every year, says study

American kids become accidental victims of opioid drugs every year, says study

American kids become accidental victims of opioid drugs every year, says study

June 7th, 2017 | ASAH Team

Parents and family members with kids in the house should be mindful of the possible dangers of leaving their painkillers at the mercy of the little ones. Researchers have been repeatedly emphasizing on the need of safe storage for prescription drugs due to the rising prevalence of accidental and deliberate misuse of these medications.

A recently published study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital reported a high incidence of accidental ingestion of opioid drugs in American kids. The study, titled “Prescription Opioid Exposures Among Children and Adolescents in the United States: 2000–2015”, and published in the journal Pediatrics in April 2017, analyzed the calls made to U.S. poison control centers during 2000–2015.

Researchers reported that 188,000 calls (over 11,000 calls per year) made during the period under review were about the ingestion of opioid drugs by children and teens. Of these, nearly 35 percent involved unintentional ingestion of drugs, with unsafe storage of these drugs being the major contributing factor. But the authors discovered an alarming rate of almost 53 percent increase in the rate of prescription opioid-related suspected suicides among teenagers. About 60 percent of the calls received by the centers reported drug poisoning in children aged 5 or younger. While 30 percent calls were made for teens aged 13–19 years, 10 percent of total calls sought help for children aged 6–12 years.

Out of all those who sought medical help, around 47 percent cases exposed to buprenorphine were referred to a health care facility. Teenagers reported greater hospital admissions (21.5 percent) than children aged between 0-5 years (8.7 percent). Most teens (71 percent) were found to be taking the drugs intentionally.  Dr. Marcel Casavant, medical director of the Central Ohio Poison Center and co-author of the study, said, “When adults bring these medications into their homes, they can become a danger to the children that live there. It is important that these medications are stored up, away and out of sight of kids of all ages. In a locked cabinet is best.”

Preventing opioid exposure in children and adolescents

The researchers recorded a decrease in the number of calls seeking medical assistance for children and adolescents suffering opioid exposure in the recent years. The number, which had witnessed an 86 percent increase during 2000–2009, recorded a 31 percent drop during 2009–2015, possibly due to efforts directed at reducing the opioid epidemic in the United States.

Parents should be aware of this trend among teens, given that most teens who misuse prescription drugs get the drugs from friends or family. Considering the gravity of the situation, the researchers emphasized on the need of educating parents about safe storage of these medications at home to keep them away from children and avoid the risk of addiction and overdose. Using single-dose packaging or blister packs in place of buying a bottle full of prescription pills can be an effective strategy to prevent accidental poisonings in children, researchers advised.

People who are looking for medical assistance for substance abuse or opioid addiction can contact the Arizona Substance Abuse Helpline. The representatives can help you with information regarding various substance abuse treatment centers in Arizona that offer continuing care programs in a soothing environment. You can reach us via online chat or call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-857-5777 for immediate assistance.

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