Opioids Most Common Substance Contributing to Pediatric Poisonings

Opioids accounted for 24.1 percent of substances contributing to deaths in 2005 and 52.2 percent in 2018
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WEDNESDAY, March 8, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Among young children, opioids are the most common substance contributing to fatal poisonings, according to a study published online March 8 in Pediatrics.

Christopher E. Gaw, M.D., from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues describe the characteristics of fatal pediatric poisonings using data acquired from 40 states participating in the National Fatality Review-Case Reporting System on deaths attributed to poisonings among children aged 5 years and younger from 2005 to 2018.

A total of 731 poisoning-related fatalities were reported by child death reviews during the study period. The researchers found that 42.1 percent occurred among infants aged younger than 1 year and 65.1 percent occurred in the child's home. At the time of death, 97 of 581 children had an open child protective services case. Overall, 32.2 percent of children were supervised by an individual other than the biological parent. The most common substance contributing to death was opioids (47.3 percent), followed by over-the-counter pain, cold, and allergy medications (14.8 percent). Opioids accounted for 24.1 and 52.2 percent of the substances contributing to deaths in 2005 and 2018, respectively.

"Opioids are the most common substance contributing to fatal poisonings among young children, and child death reviews report an increasing proportion of opioid-related poisoning deaths," the authors write. "As the types of opioids circulating during the current epidemic continue to evolve, policy and programmatic initiatives should focus on children in addition to adults."

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