Teenagers and Young Children Increasingly Opioid Dependent

As reported by WebMD, an estimated 2.4 million Americans have an opioid use disorder, according to federal estimates. That includes abuse of prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin, as well as illegal drugs like heroin.

But while the focus is usually on adults, children have become “the second wave of victims,” Kane said.

One recent study found that a growing number of children and teenagers are showing up in emergency rooms dependent on opioids. In 2013, roughly 135 kids per day were testing positive for opioid dependence in the nation’s ERs, according to the study.

The new study looked at pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, which would capture the most serious overdose cases. Some kids landed there in respiratory distress, in need of a ventilator, Kane said. Others needed medications to raise their blood pressure from dangerously low levels.

The findings are based on records from 31 U.S. children’s hospitals. Between 2004 and 2015, there were more than 3,600 children and teenagers admitted to the hospital for an opioid overdose — and 43 percent of them had to be taken the ICU.

In contrast, the study found, only 12 percent of children hospitalized for any reason had to be admitted to the ICU.

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To read more about how the opioid crisis is impacting teenagers and young children, please visit WebMD.com.

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