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Number of Children With Opioid Poisonings Increasing

Percentage of critical care admissions and suicidal intent increased in each era


MONDAY, Dec. 30, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The severity of pediatric admissions for acute opioid ingestions, especially following attempted suicide, increased from 2005 to 2018, according to a study published online Dec. 19 in Clinical Toxicology.

Megan E. Land, M.D., from the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the 55 U.S. poison control centers reporting to the National Poison Data System to identify children (<19 years) with a primary opioid ingestion (between 2005 and 2018). Yearly trends were assessed.

The researchers found that 27.5 percent of the 1,002,947 primary exposure-related opioid poisoning cases reported to U.S. poison centers involved children. In each time period (2005-2009, 2010-2014, and 2015-2018), the percentage of patients admitted to a critical care unit as a result of these exposures increased (6.6, 8.5, and 9.6 percent, respectively). Additionally, suicidal intent increased in each era (14.0, 15.3, and 21.2 percent, respectively) and was associated with increased adjusted odds of receiving a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) procedure (odds ratio, 9.68). The opioids most associated with having a PICU procedure were fentanyl (odds ratio, 12.0), heroin (odds ratio, 11.1), and methadone (odds ratio, 15.0).

"This study suggests that because the opioid epidemic continues to have a serious impact on pediatric patients, and the health care resources required to care for them, pediatricians caring for children with opioid ingestions due to self-harm, abuse, and misuse must continue to strive for effective policy changes to mitigate this crisis," the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text

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