Teens Exposed to Opioid Rx at Risk for Serious Outcomes

Teens more likely than younger children to have health facility admission, serious medical outcome

girl being examined

TUESDAY, March 28, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Teenagers with prescription opioid exposures are more likely to have health care facility (HCF) admission and serious medical outcomes than younger children, according to a study published online March 20 in Pediatrics.

Jakob D. Allen, from the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues examined exposures to prescription opioids among children and adolescents aged younger than 20 years in the United States, using data from the National Poison Data System for 2000 to 2015.

The researchers found that the annual number and rate of exposures increased early in the study period, but after 2009 there was a decline, with the exception of buprenorphine exposures, which increased during the last three study years. The largest proportion of exposures was accounted for by hydrocodone (28.7 percent). Nearly half (47.1 percent) of children exposed to buprenorphine were admitted to an HCF. Compared with children aged 0 to 5 years and those aged 6 to 12 years, teenagers had higher odds of being admitted to an HCF (odds ratios, 2.86 and 6.62, respectively). Teenagers also had increased odds of serious medical outcomes than children aged 0 to 5 or 6 to 12 years (odds ratios, 3.03 and 4.59, respectively). There was a 52.7 percent increase in the rate of prescription opioid-related suspected suicides among teenagers during the study period.

"Prescription opioid-related HCF admissions and serious medical outcomes were higher among teenagers," the authors write.

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