More U.S. kids being poisoned by prescription opioids: study

More U.S. children and teenagers are being poisoned by opioid painkillers that are often prescribed for other members of their families, the Yale School of Medicine warned in its latest report.

A team of researchers form the Yale School of Medicine surveyed the risk of opioid overdoses among children, and found that the number of children who visited emergency rooms to receive treatment for a drug overdose jumped more than 100 per cent between 1997 and 2012.

While some cases of opioid overdoses among kids were found to be deliberate; some cases were accidental, such as when a child found an opioid painkiller in a medicine cabinet of his/her parents or on a countertop.

Julie Gaither, who led the research, said she and her colleagues were surprised to find that the greatest increase over time was among 1 to 4-year-old kids.

Sharing their findings, Gaither said, “During the course of 16 years, hospitalizations attributed to opioid poisonings rose nearly two-fold in the pediatric population. We were surprised to find that the greatest increase over time (was) among the youngest children, those 1 to 4 years in age.”

The annual incidence of hospitalizations for opioid poisonings per 100,000 children aged 1 to 19 years rose from 1.40 to 3.71, an increase of 165 percent."

Gaither and her colleagues reported the alarming findings of their study in JAMA Pediatrics, a journal published by the American Medical Association (AMA).