Study: More Toddlers, Preschoolers Overdosing on Opioids

The rate of toddlers and preschoolers who have been hospitalized for overdosing on opioids has more than doubled in recent years, a new study claims. The JAMA Pediatrics study, published Monday, shows that the rate of overdoses in all children rose more than 100 percent over a 16-year period. Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine analyzed more than 13,000 records from patients aged one to 19 between 1997 and 2012. While most poisonings in the Yale study were caused by prescription opioids, heroin poisonings also increased by 161 percent. “Even in children younger than 6 years, opioids, followed closely by benzodiazepines, now account for most of the drug poisonings in this age group; in nearly all these poisonings, the child was exposed to a prescription intended for an adult in the household,” the study says. Author Julie Gaither wrote in a statement: “The take-home message is that prescription opioid poisonings are likely to remain a growing problem among children unless greater attention is directed toward the pediatric community.”