CDC: Kids unintentionally exposed to drugs for treating opioid dependency

January 30, 2013

Atlanta – Drugs prescribed to treat opioid dependence are being ingested by unsupervised children, putting them at risk for serious injury or death, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report focuses on buprenorphine products, which are increasingly being prescribed to treat opioid dependency.

From 2010 to 2011, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System identified 68 cases of children younger than 6 ingesting buprenorphine products. Based on that number, CDC estimates that 1,499 children visited emergency departments for buprenorphine-product ingestions from 2010 to 2011, compared with zero cases in 2004.

The drug could lead to poor breathing, and children reportedly have died from a single dose, the report states. Adults are advised to keep buprenorphine products in child-resistant packaging and store them out of children’s sight.

The study was published Jan. 25 in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.