Fewer Children in US Overdosing on Opioids

Fewer Children in US Overdosing on Opioids

That translates to roughly 11,700 calls per year placed to poison control centers, researchers say.

From 2000 to 2015, more than 188,000 phone calls were made to US Poison Control Centers on behalf of children who were exposed to prescription opioids, according to new research. Poison control centers throughout the country are reporting enormous spikes in calls where a child is injured due to an opioid medication, reports The Washington Post.

Even more alarming, parents of older children said they are less anxious than parents of younger children, despite the fact many opioid addictions start when teens experiment with pain pills in high school.

The researchers found out that the drugs oxycodone (OxyContin) and oxycodone plus acetaminophen (Percocet) were the ones which were included in numerous opioid abuse cases where children overdosed.

Researchers are demanding changes in how the medications are being prescribed and packaged. Over the course of the 16 years analyzed, most child-related exposures happened to kids under the age of five (60 percent), followed by teenagers (30 percent), and 6-12 year olds (10 percent) The most common opioids kids came in contact with are hydrocodone at 29 percent, oxycodone at 18 percent, and codeine at 17 percent of exposures.

The findings of the study were published n the journal Pediatrics on March 20.

The downturn may also mean people are switching to street drugs like heroin, as opioids become increasingly more hard to get, he cautioned.

Despite the downward trend, the number of opioid exposures among teens was still higher in 2015 than in 2000, Casavant said.

The one glimmer of good news the study offers is that exposure to prescription opioids has been decreasing overall, for all age groups of children, since hitting a peak in 2009-except for buprenorphine, which is used to treat heroin addiction.

Sean Esteban McCabe of the University of MI in Ann Arbor and colleagues analyzed nationally representative studies of high school seniors collected between 1976 and 2015. About a quarter of the students reported using opioids for medical and non-medical uses.

"The epidemic of opioid use disproportionately affects some urban and more rural areas", they write.

Casavant advises that poisonous materials be kept out of sight and out of reach.

The researchers also recommend that prescription opioids be packaged more frequently in blister packs, or single-dose packaging, rather than batches of loose pills in a bottle.