According to a new study, the US poison control centers received more than 11,000 calls regarding children who are becoming exposed to the addictive drug, buprenorphine.

The study found that the calls were made between the years 2007-2016. About 86 percent of children below the age of 6 years old were exposed and 89 percent of those exposures were unintentional. 

Dangers Of Buprenorphine

The drug buprenorphine is a stimulant of opiate receptors and a blocker. Therefore, it doesn't give the same type of "high" that opiates do but it is still considered an opiate.

Dr. Jason Kane, an associate professor of Pediatrics and Critical Care at University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital Health, stated that health experts believe these numbers came from an unintended consequence of medical therapy that has been provided to those who require it. The study found that the 11,275 children were exposed and that the overall exposure rate per 1 million increased by 215.6 percent between the years 2007 and 2010.

In 2010, there was a 42.6 percent decline in exposure to 11.6 in 2013 but then the rate increased from 8.6 percent to 12.6 in 2016. For adolescents, the study found that the exposure rate was at least 11 percent and 77 percent of those exposures were unintentional and at least 25 percent used buprenorphine with another substance.

The study also found that more than 60 percent of the buprenorphine abuse was in male adolescents and adolescents females made up 60 percent of suspected suicides.

Health Officials Urge Exposure Prevention 

The authors of the study continued that over 2 million people in the United States are having an opioid use disorder and because of the 11 million people who are misusing the drug, the number of adolescents and children who are exposed to buprenorphine will continue to rise.

Kane continued that at least a quarter of children who are under the age of the 6 that were exposed to the drug have spent time in intensive care.  The author's of the study suggest that exposure prevention is aligned with children's age group. Some suggestions include getting rid of unused medications, keeping the child-proof caps on the containers, and keeping medications in the right labeled bottles. 

"Seven children under the age of 6 died as a result of an accidental poisoning from this drug, which was present in someone's home, prescribed with the goal of making someone else better, that's a striking thing for me," Kane continued

The study was published in the journal, Academics.

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