JAMA Reports a Massive 165 Percent Increase in Child Hospitilizations for Opioid Poisoning

There seems to be a pill for just about every ailment these days, with many drugs having addictive properties. The use of opioids is on the rise and more and more children are being poisoned by them.

A recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the rate at which children were being hospitalized for opioid poisoning increased 165 percent between 1997 to 2012. The rate increased from 1.40 per 100,000 kids to 3.71 per 100,000, and over a six-year period for which mortality information was available, 176 children died.

The number of toddlers that were hospitalized more than doubled. The rate went from 0.86 per 100,000 to 2.62 per 100,000 with accidental overdoses most likely being the result of children thinking the drugs were candy. The drug comes in the form of a patch, pill, and even a lollipop that may be enticing to children.

Of all of the age groups touched by this problem, teens are the most likely to be hospitalized, mainly because they are at a higher risk for suicide and depression. In 2012, 10.17 per 100,000 teenagers were hospitalized for opioid poisoning.

JAMA Pediatrics published the study that examined over 13,000 hospital discharge records from the years 1992 to 2012 that involved opioid poisoning. Census records were used to estimate the rates. The data ends in 2012, but it remains on track with the rates of drug abuse in adults, which remain high despite a drop since 2012.