A study that was published on Monday lays out the fact that the Opioid crisis in America is very real. Even more disturbing, it’s affecting our children more than we likely knew. According to Fortune, the article in the medical journal Pediatrics shows that the number of those under the age of 18 admitted to the hospital in the US because of opioid overdose has nearly doubled over the last 10 years. In 2004, the number of kids between the ages of one and 17 was around 700. In 2015, that same group of children saw more than 1,500 patients admitted.
When taking a deeper look at the study, there is one particular age group that is the real problem. The study found that children between 12 and 17 made up around 60 percent of all opioid overdose patients. It’s not an entirely helpful study, as it did not differentiate between those that took the drugs by accident and those that were looking for a high. Interestingly, children between the ages of 1 and 5 were the next highest group, making up 30 percent of all patients. It would seem to indicate that this group was indeed taking the drugs accidentally, or they were being given to them by caregivers who were not, in fact, looking out for their best interests. The researchers themselves said these cases were probably children finding their parents’ or guardians’ pill bottles and mistaking what was inside for a tasty treat.
While the numbers in this study might be a bit chilling, there was a spot of good news. The rate of children who died from an opioid overdose has dropped. Between 2004 and 2007, the percentage of kids who died was 2.8 percent. Between 2012 and 2015 that number has fallen to 1.3 percent. That drop seems to indicate that doctors are getting better at knowing what to do when they see a child come in with an overdose. The really bad part of that getting better is that it’s likely at least in part because so many more children are coming into the ER in the first place.
On big solve for parents who are worried about this was issued by the study’s researchers. They said that if you are someone that has to have these drugs in your home, you need to make sure you are locking them away. Doing this will avoid accidental or unapproved usage by your children.