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How the Prescription Opioid Epidemic is Affecting Children and Teens

From 1999-2010 retail sales of prescription opioids quadrupled. As more adults become dependent on these medications, children and teenagers are also at risk for poisoning and misuse. A new study looked at how often kids and teenagers were hospitalized for opioid poisoning over a sixteen-year period.

Researchers from Yale School of Medicine reviewed the U.S. pediatric hospital discharge records of children and teens ages 1 to 19 from 1997-2012, identifying more than 13,000 children hospitalized for opioid poisonings. They found that the hospitalization rates doubled overall. The largest number of hospitalizations were among teenagers 15-19 while the highest rate of increase in hospitalizations was among the youngest children, 1-4-year-olds. Decreasing these risks will require comprehensive strategies that target opioid storage, packaging, and misuse.