Kids Exposed To Prescription Opioids: US Poison Control Centers Get 1 Call Every 45 Minutes
Opioidsare drugs that are often prescribed by doctors to cure pain and they do so, by acting on the nervous system. These drugs when used by the children beyond the prescribed rate, can cause severe medical issues.
The Central Ohio Poison Center and the Center For Injury Research and Policy, found that the U.S. Poison Control Centre, received one call every 45 minutes related to paediatric exposure to opioids.
The U.S. Poison Control Center has received more than 188,000 calls, pertaining to paediatric exposure to opioids from January 2000 to December 2015. On an average, this amounts to an alarming 32 calls every day.
With repeated efforts from several organizations to help recognize the possible side effects of opioids and treating them, the rate of cases related tp opioids exposure has relatively decreased since 2009.
The Curious Case Of Buprenorphine
Although opioid exposure and poisoning cases are on a decline, there is an exception - buprenorphine. This is an opioid which is used to cure people affected with heroin and other addictions.
While the negative effect of various other opioids has decreased significantly, paediatric exposure to buprenorphine has increased rapidly.
Opioid Exposure And Deaths
Around 60 percent of the children, who were more than 5 years, and 30 percent of teenagers, were affected by opioid exposures. Most of the calls that were related to opioid poisoning generally involved drugs like oxycodone (18 percent), hydrocodone (29 percent) and, codeine (17 percent).
In case of children below 5 years, most of the opioid exposure took place at home unintentionally. This was generally due to the curious, exploratory nature of the child. The outcome wasn't always very serious and was managed well at the home itself.
However, among teenagers, the exposure and poisoning were intentional. As a result, during the 16-year study period, the researchers found that there was a 50 percent increase in suicide cases related to opioids exposure.
Possible Remedies Given By Experts
According to Gary Smith, the senior author of the study, physicians have to strike a delicate balance between the dose of opioids provided to cure the pain and the amount of dosage a patient needs.
Smith also stated that even though the overall percentage of children affected with opioid poisoning has been decreasing significantly, parents will have to be cautious and need to keep the medicines out of their reach.
"The opioid crisis which has been affecting our adult population has now trickled down to our children," shared Dr. Marcel Casavant, co-author of the study.
It is the duty of the adults to keep the medicines in a separate place, away from the reach of children, locked inside a secure cabinet. The researchers have also urged the need to pack the opioids in blister packs, instead of filling up the entire pills in "one prescription bottle."
The entire data for the study was acquired from the National Poison Data System, maintained by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).
The study has been published in journal Pediatrics on March 20.
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