U.S. Poison Control Centers receive 32 calls a day about kids exposed to opioids
A new study published online by Pediatrics and conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that there were more than 188,000 calls to US Poison Control Centers for pediatric exposure to opioids from January 2000 through December 2015, averaging 32 calls a day or one every 45 minutes.
The good news is that thanks to recognition of the problem and efforts from many organizations, the number and rate of exposures to most opioids has been steadily decreasing since 2009. One notable exception is buprenorphine, a medication primarily used to treat people for addiction to heroin and other opioids. While exposures to most other opioids have declined, pediatric buprenorphine exposures continue to climb, which is concerning given that almost half (47%) result in admission to a health care facility.
"As physicians, we need to find a balance between making sure that we are helping our patients manage their pain, and making sure we don't prescribe more or stronger medication than they need," said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, the senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "While overall rates of exposure to opioids among children are going down, they are still too high. We need to continue to examine our prescription practices and to increase education to parents about safe ways to store these medications at home to keep them out of the hands of children."
Overall, most of the exposures occurred among children younger than five years of age (60%) followed by teenagers (30%). The medications leading to the most calls were hydrocodone (29%), oxycodone (18%), and codeine (17%). The reason for and the severity of the exposure varied by age.
Source: U.S. Poison Control Centers receive 32 calls a day about kids exposed to opioids