Opioid overdose deaths triple among US teens and young children


Opioid overdose deaths triple among US teens and young children

Kate Randall

31 December 2018

Opioid overdose death rates among US teens and children have tripled over the past 17 years, a new study shows. The study, published online in JAMA Network Open, examined a group of almost 9,000 children and adolescents (under age 20) who died in all settings from opioid poisonings between 1999 and 2016.

Researchers found that young children have either died from accidentally ingesting narcotics or from intentional poisoning. Teens, meanwhile, have more often died from unintentional overdoses, using prescriptions painkillers found in their homes or drugs bought on the streets. These include prescription opioids, heroin, fentanyl and other legal and illicit drugs.

Julie Gaither, lead researcher of the study and an instructor at the Yale School of Medicine, told MedicalXpress, “These deaths don’t reach the magnitude of adult deaths from opioids, but they follow a similar pattern.” She added, “As we consider how to contain this epidemic, parents, clinicians and prescribers need to consider how children and adolescents are affected and how our families and communities are affected.”

The study shows the depth of the opioid crisis facing the youngest segments of the population and points to the woefully inadequate response of the government in dealing with this social catastrophe as it spirals out of control.

The study notes: “What began more than two decades ago as a public health problem primarily among young and middle-aged white males is now an epidemic of prescription and illicit opioid abuse that is taking a toll on all segments of US society, including the pediatric population.”

Drug overdose deaths in the US topped 72,000 in 2017, according to estimates

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