Kids at risk of opi­oid over­dose from adult pre­scrip­tions: study

Cape Breton Post - - CANADA -

Young chil­dren whose moth­ers have been pre­scribed an opi­oid are at an in­creased risk of be­ing hos­pi­tal­ized for an over­dose from the po­tent pain med­i­ca­tions, most of­ten through ac­ci­den­tal inges­tion, a study has found.

“It wouldn’t be at all sur­pris­ing for a two- or three-year-old to find a tablet and put it in his or her mouth,’’ said Dr. David Ju­urlink, a se­nior sci­en­tist at the In­sti­tute for Clin­i­cal Eval­u­a­tive Sci­ences who co-au­thored the study.

“And it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand that a sin­gle tablet could kill a small child. These are very dan­ger­ous drugs at the high end of the dose range.’’

The study used 2002-2015 health records to iden­tify 103 chil­dren aged 10 or younger who were treated in an On­tario hospi­tal for an over­dose and whose moth­ers had re­ceived pub­licly funded pre­scrip­tions for an opi­oid in the pre­ced­ing year.

Each case was matched for risk com­par­i­son with a con­trol group — chil­dren who had not suf­fered an opi­oid over­dose and whose moth­ers had been pre­scribed an anti-in­flam­ma­tory pain killer.

The re­searchers found that kids whose moms were given an opi­oid had more than twice the risk of suf­fer­ing an over­dose com­pared to chil­dren whose moth­ers were put on an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory pills. Codeine, oxy­codone and methadone were the most com­mon cause of the drug over­doses.

More than half the chil­dren treated for opi­oid tox­i­c­ity were un­der two years old, in­clud­ing nine who were ba­bies un­der a year old, say the re­searchers, whose study was pub­lished Mon­day in the jour­nal Pe­di­atrics.

“We don’t know why the younger kids, un­der one, might have been ex­posed,’’ said Ju­urlink, not­ing that chil­dren that age typ­i­cally don’t have the co-or­di­na­tion or mo­tor skills to in­de­pen­dently ac­cess med­i­ca­tions.

“It could have been an ac­ci­dent, it could have been a sib­ling,’’ he said. “I sup­pose there’s the pos­si­bil­ity it could have been ma­li­cious. We sim­ply couldn’t say.’’

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