Opioid Poisonings Rising Dramatically in Children, Teens

HealthDay News — The number of young children and teens hospitalized for overdosing on opioids has increased nearly 2-fold in recent years, according to a study published online Oct. 31 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Julie Gaither, PhD, MPH, RN, of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues analyzed data from children’s hospitals from 1997 through 2012 that were obtained at 3-year intervals. The researchers identified 13 052 records of children and teens hospitalized for opioid poisoning. They also found records of heroin poisoning among teens.

In all, 1.3% of the children died during hospitalization. Gaither’s team also discovered that boys accounted for 34.7% of the hospitalizations in 1997, but by 2012 that had grown to 47.4%. Most of the children hospitalized were white (73.5%) and covered by private insurance (44.8%).

When the researchers looked at why these poisonings occurred, they found that 16 cases were attributed to suicide or self-inflicted injury among children younger than 10 from 1997 to 2012. Among children aged 10 to 14, the incidence of poisonings from suicide or self-inflicted injury rose 37%, while the incidence of accidental poisoning increased 82%. Among teens 15 to 19, poisonings from suicide or self-inflicted injury increased 140%, while accidental poisoning increased 303%.

Related Articles


Gaither JR, Leventhal JM, Ryan SA, et al. National Trends in Hospitalizations for Opioid Poisonings Among Children and Adolescents, 1997 to 2012. JAMA Pediatr. 2016; doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.2154.