Rate of United States children hospitalized for opioid poisoning, overdoses doubles

Study: More kids are ending up in ICUs because of opioids

While 60 percent of the overdoses were in the 12 to 17 age group, it was not immediately clear how numerous children ingested the drugs intentionally and how many were accidental, CNN reported.

"When they come in, they're going to fall into one of two categories: either they're teenagers with intentional or drug-seeking behavior because of recreational or self-injurious behavior, or they're kids who got into their parents' medication", says Dr. Jason Kane, an associate professor of pediatrics and critical care at Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago and a lead author on the study.

Based on the study, the incidence of hospitalization for prescription-opioid poisoning among children and adolescents from 1 to 19 years of age increased almost twofold from 1997 to 2012, with the largest percentage increase occurring among the youngest children ages 1 to 4.

The makes sense, the study authors wrote in their paper, since adult prescriptions for methadone, a drug used to treat other opioid addictions, increased 559% from 2000 to 2007. Opioid related deaths are so inappropriate that they have assisted drive down United States life expectancy.

An estimated 2.4 million Americans have an opioid use disorder, according to federal estimates.

They found more than 3,600 children aged 17 and under were admitted for opioid-related injuries at just 31 hospitals between 2004 and 2015. That includes abuse of prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin, as well as illegal drugs like heroin.

"In this study, we demonstrate a significant and steady increase in the diagnosis of opioid ingestion and poisoning across all age groups in USA children's hospitals from 2004 to 2015".

But while the focus is usually on adults, children have become "the second wave of victims", Kane said.

The findings also point to a drain on health care resources, he added. She also cites a recent estimate that put the total societal cost of opioid overdoses at $504 billion per year-nearly 3% of the US gross domestic product. Ryan said that when they have legitimate prescriptions for opioids, they need to keep the medication out of the sight and reach of young children.

In the report they published was reported that the children under the age of 6 opioid remains the de facto of drug poisoning.

"I think parents often underestimate the power of communicating their values to their kids", she said.

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