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Gender Influences Opioid-Related Adverse Effects in Children

Findings in study of white children, aged 6 to 15 years, undergoing tonsillectomy

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For children undergoing tonsillectomy, sex influences opioid-related adverse effects, according to a study published online Dec. 17 in Pain Medicine.

Senthilkumar Sadhasivam, M.D., M.P.H., from Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and colleagues conducted a prospective observational clinical study involving 219 white children, aged 6 to 15 years, undergoing outpatient tonsillectomy. All children received standard perioperative care with a standard intraoperative dose of morphine. Opioid-related adverse effects were assessed.

The researchers found that for girls, but not boys, there was a significant morphine effect for postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV; P = 0.001) and prolonged post-anesthesia recovery unit stay in association with PONV (P = 0.010). There was no significant difference noted in the overall incidence of respiratory depression between boys and girls, but as the total perioperative morphine dose increased to 0.3 mg/kg or more, the incidence of respiratory depression and PONV tended to be higher in white girls than boys (respiratory depression: 52 versus 32 percent; PONV: 43 versus 4 percent).

"This study demonstrates that [a] child's sex influences morphine's dose response and adverse effects," the authors write.

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