Teens Exposed to Prescription Opioids at Risk for Serious Outcomes

HealthDay News — Teenagers with prescription opioid exposures are more likely to have health care facility (HCF) admission and serious medical outcomes than younger children, according to a study published in Pediatrics.1

Jakob D. Allen, from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues examined exposures to prescription opioids among children and adolescents aged 20 years or younger in the United States, using data from the National Poison Data System for 2000 to 2015.

The researchers found that the annual number and rate of exposures increased early in the study period, but declined after 2009, with the exception of buprenorphine exposures, which increased during the last 3 study years. The largest proportion of exposures was accounted for by hydrocodone (28.7%). Nearly half (47.1%) of children exposed to buprenorphine were admitted to an HCF. Compared with children aged 0 to 5 years and those aged 6 to 12 years, teenagers had higher odds of being admitted to an HCF (odds ratios, 2.86 and 6.62, respectively). Teenagers also had increased odds of serious medical outcomes than children aged 0 to 5 or 6 to 12 years (odds ratios, 3.03 and 4.59, respectively). There was a 52.7% increase in the rate of prescription opioid-related suspected suicides among teenagers during the study period.

“Prescription opioid-related HCF admissions and serious medical outcomes were higher among teenagers,” the authors write.

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  1. Allen JD, Casavant MJ, Spiller HA, Chounthirath T, Hodges NL, Smith GA. Prescription Opioid Exposures Among Children and Adolescents in the United States: 2000-2015. Pediatrics. 2017.doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-3382 [Epub ahead of print]