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Infants and young kids ‘not spared’ from opioid epidemic, researchers say

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A recent study of deadly poisonings among kids younger than 6 has found that nearly half involved opioids.

Looking at 2005-2018 data from 40 states in the National Fatality Review-Case Reporting System, researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia identified 731 fatal poisonings. The average age of the group was just over 1 year.

Opioids played a role in 47% of the deaths; over-the-counter medication was a distant second, at 15%. Overall, around 42% of the deaths involved infants, and around two-thirds of the deaths happened in the child’s house.

“Our study highlights how the opioid epidemic has not spared our nation’s infants or young children,” study co-author Christopher Gaw, a pediatric emergency medicine fellow at CHOP, said in a video abstract for the study.

Gaw and his colleagues call for educating caregivers about proper use of OTC medicines, having naloxone in the home to counteract an opioid overdose, and keeping medicines in their original containers and in a locked storage container that’s out of kids’ reach

The study was published online in the journal Pediatrics.

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