"The increasing number of adult drug prescriptions is strongly associated with rising pediatric exposures and poisoning", Dr. Jason Kane, the lead author and associate pediatrics professor at the University of Chicago and Comer Children's Hospital wrote.
A retrospective pediatric study conducted by the Pediatric Health Information System indicates that more children are landing in hospitals due to opioid ingestion and overdose for the period of 2004 to 2015.
Dr. Kane said about 20 percent of the youngest children were poisoned by methadone, an opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain or opioid dependence in adults This means many young children are likely finding their parents' medication and ingesting it, Dr. Kane said.
Data incurred by the research shows that there were 3,647 opioid-related hospitalizations in 31 hospitals across the country. Nationally, the rate of hospitalization and pediatric intensive care unit admission for opioid ingestions increased from 2004 to 2015, according to a study published online March 5 in Pediatrics. For opioid-related PICU admissions, 37.0 percent required mechanical ventilator support and 20.3 percent required vasopressors.
The researchers identified methadone ingestions, with almost 20 percent of children below 6 years old being admitted with methadone ingestion.
Around 2 million Americans have an opioid use disorder, according to federal estimates.
As efforts to reduce adult opioid overdoses have not led to fewer pediatric overdoses, the USA must take additional actions to reduce opioid exposure in children, the researchers concluded.
Prescription opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine are powerful painkillers. The total number of hospital days attributed to children with opioid ingestion also "continues to increase over time at an alarming rate". The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control describes OUD as a problematic pattern of opioid use that causes significant impairment or distress. Prescription painkillers were most commonly involved, but heroin, methadone and other opioid drugs also were used. Opioid related deaths are so inappropriate that they have assisted drive down USA life expectancy.
Even more, 30% of the cases were young kids and toddlers, aged between 1 and 5, who have also been hospitalized with opioid overdoses.
The study took the most recent look at the opioid epidemic sweeping the United States.