(CBS NEWSPATH) – An alarming new study shows more children are dying from poisonings related to opioids.
The nation’s opioid epidemic is having deadly consequences for children. A new study in the journal Pediatrics shows opioids are the most common substances leading to fatal poisonings in young children. In 2018, they accounted for 52% of deaths in children 5 and younger, a significant increase from 24% in 2005.
Dr. Christopher Gaw in the Division of Emergency Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says, “even small amounts of an opioid, just because kids are smaller and weigh less, can have a much greater effect. It can change how they’re able to breathe. It can change their mental status, and that can potentially be fatal.”
Dr. Gaw authored the study and says within the past decade children have been exposed to new opioid sources like heroin, fentanyl, and drug treatments like methadone and buprenorphine.
At the Poison Control Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, nurses and pharmacists field more than 65,000 calls each year.
Other common substances, including over-the-counter pain, cold, and allergy medications are also leading to deadly poisonings.