If you think the opioid epidemic is just an adult or teenager problem, a new study says otherwise. The study published in the March issue of “Pediatrics” from the American Academy of Pediatrics looked at hospital admissions from 2004 to 2015 to identify the number of kids being treated in the pediatric intensive care unit for opioid-related treatment. What it found was an almost doubling of the number of cases of opioid ingestion. The biggest increase was in kids ages 1 to 4. Opioid-related hospitalizations were most prevalent in teens ages 12 to 17, but about one-third of the hospitalizations were in children younger than age 6.
What kids ingested also varied by age. For younger kids age 1 to 5, methadone was found in their system. For older kids, ages 12 to 17 it was heroin. This points to the fact that young kids are getting into their parents’ or someone else’s medication and swallowing it.
All medications including prescription and over-the-counter should be stored out of sight in a high cabinet with child-proof locks or in a lock box.
The good news is that the deaths in children from opioid ingestion had gone down, but many kids were not able to go home right away. Instead, they were sent to long-term care, skilled nursing or pediatric psychiatric facilities.